The United National Congress (UNC) has welcomed what is says is the long overdue reversal of the government’s ill-advised and unjustified ban on open air pyre cremations.
However, in a release on Saturday from PRO Kirk Meighoo, the party said the government deserves no praise for this.
Meighoo said “It was a dictatorial, tyrannical injustice that never should have happened in the first place.”
“The government’s change of heart was forced by protest and legal action. It came on the heels of directions given by the High Court that would have effectively cornered the government.”
On Tuesday 11th January Justice Quinlan-Williams gave a series of directions for the Minister of Health to file evidence in the constitutional case brought by Cindy-Ann Ramsaroop-Persad and fixed the trial for March 2nd 2022.
The Court of Appeal had directed that this matter be heard as a matter of urgency.
Previously, Justice Kangaloo had also given directions in the judicial review brought by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and fixed the trial for March 25th 2022.
Meighoo said “The UNC will neither forget nor forgive this dictatorial PNM administration for this act of blatant discrimination and oppression against our religiously peaceful and accepting culture, and against the Hindu community in particular.”
He said the ban against open air pyre cremations was a knee-jerk reaction by the Minister of Health and his failed team of technocrats who have presided over one of the worst mismanaged covid disasters in the world.
Deyalsingh and his hapless bunch maintained this prohibition with no empirical data to suggest that covid transmission from a corpse posed any significant or real threat. The established science and medical research worldwide shows that the low risk could have easily been managed by having a closed casket funeral.”
Meighoo added “It would appear that Deyalsingh and his team failed to do a simple google search far less consult international medical journals. The fact that Deyalsingh and Parasram were not present at the meeting with the Maha Sabha and AG Al-Rawi is telling. After all, this was a meeting to deal with a policy which was defended on the grounds that it was based on sensitive medical advice. ”
HE said we must not forget the pain, suffering and inequitable financial stress of the many families who were forced to undergo the indignity of having to dishonour the dying wishes of their loved ones. “They had to undergo the injustice of saying farewell in a manner that conflicted with their religious and spiritual beliefs,” added Meighoo.
He added, “The trauma that was inflicted on the Hindu community shall forever stain the words of our national anthem that “here every creed and race find an equal place”. This policy was state sanctioned discrimination and oppression which targeted innocent people at their weakest and darkest times of grief.”
Further, Meighoo said the government has not explained how it could be justified in lifting this ban against open air cremations now when the numbers of infections and deaths are so high. “What is it, pray tell, that has changed such that the risk exposure to transmission from a corpse has suddenly decreased?”
“The short answer is “nothing”. The real reason for this sudden change of heart lies in the fact that the government has no clue how to deal with the pandemic. Its failed policies and ideas have led us to the raw reality of overflowing mortuaries and funeral homes, and the sad loss of generations of people.
The lifting of this ban is too little, too late. Far from being a cause for celebration, it is a sad, stark reminder of the callous, continuing insensitivity of the PNM to the Hindu community and an attack on our multi-religious national culture.”