Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2015 Contents A5
Friday, June 19, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The People s National Movement (PNM)
yesterday completed its screening process
of candidates for the September 7 general
election when it chose social worker Par-
batee Helen Maharaj as its candidate for
the Chaguanas East seat.
Her selection ended months of unsuc-
cessful attempts to find a replacement can-
didate for Diane Baldeo-Chadeesingh, who
withdrew her candidacy months ago.
Two nominations appeared before the
party's screening committee at Balisier
House, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, the other
being Cheryl Ryan-Mohammed.
But within an hour of the screening exer-
cise, party secretary Ashton Ford and other
national executive members---including
party leader Dr Keith Rowley, chairman
Franklin Khan, lady vice-chairman Camille
Robinson-Regis and elections officer Foster
Cummings---had completed the exercise.
Maharaj is a social worker who lives at
Chase Village, Chaguanas.
At the last screening exercise about two
months ago, the constituency executive had
insisted it wanted Nal Ramsingh as the can-
didate. He was rejected in earlier screenings.
Yesterday after the choice was announced,
however, Robinson-Regis said Maharaj had
the full support of the national executive
and constituency executives. She said she
now expected the chosen and defeated can-
didates to work to help the PNM win the
Robinson-Regis said Maharaj was the
right candidate based on her experience as
a social worker.
Maharaj later told reporters she was hon-
oured to have been selected to contest the
seat for the PNM. She said she decided to
come forward and enter electoral politics
because she was "not satisfied with what
is happening right now in this country.
"There is poor governance. There is
degradation of all our institutions. There is
a lack of people participation," Maharaj said.
She said she "could not sit down and
just be an observer. I needed to come forward
and I was inspired to come forward to do
something about it."
She said she had almost 30 years expe-
rience as a social worker and was currently
a guidance officer. She worked previously
as a probation officer and was also the co-
ordinator of a mediation centre.
Ford said the PNM was "in a joyous mood
this evening." There were a handful of PNM
supporters at Balisier House yesterday.
Screening began last year and the party
has completed selection of all 41 candidates
for the general election. The People's Part-
nership has not started screening as yet but
nominations have been received from several
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
announced the election date last week.
Social worker is PNM's
pick for Chaguanas East
A male student of the Mason Hall Sec-
ondary School was warded at the Scar-
borough General Hospital in a satisfac-
tory condition last night after he was
allegedly stabbed yesterday by a school-
mate on the school compound.
The T&T Guardian understands the
incident occurred shortly after 8 am and
involved two students who were said to
be embroiled in an ongoing feud since the
start of the school term.
According to reports, the 16-year-old
student passed MTS Security officials and
entered the school compound with a knife.
Eyewitnesses said he approached the 18-
year-old student and an argument started.
The elder boy allegedly slapped the
The 16-year-old then pulled out the
knife and dealt the victim four stabs in
the forehead, chest and back. He then fled
the scene on foot.
The injured student was rushed to the
hospital by a teacher where he was attend-
He was said to be in a satisfactory con-
dition last night.
The suspect was later detained by police
and is assisting them with their investi-
gations. Charges are yet to be laid. Scar-
borough police are continuing investiga-
In a statement yesterday, the Tobago
House of Assembly's Division of Education,
Youth Affairs and Sport, said immediate
steps had been taken to address the matter.
"Representatives of the Student Support
Services and School Supervision Units of
the Department of Education were
deployed and met with members of staff,
students and affected families.
"In an effort to alleviate any short-term
or long-term effects on our students and
staff, trauma and post-traumatic strategies
will be implemented over the next couple
of weeks," it said.
The statement added the division "will
continue to investigate to ensure that the
matter is dealt with appropriately" and
remained committed to ensure all staff
and students enjoyed a safe environment
at all educational institutions on the island.
Cops hunt teen who stabbed schoolmate
JENSEN LA VENDE
Attorney Gerald Ramdeen today will petition a
High Court Judge to get his 25 clients, all inmates
at the Remand Yard of the Golden Grove Prison,
Arouca, to be seen by a private doctor to determine
and record the extent of their injuries in the wake
of an incident at the facility on Tuesday.
Ramdeen said he would be doing so after taking
instructions from the men, all Muslims, who claim
they were beaten by prison officers two days before
they began observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan,
which started yesterday.
Speaking with members of the media after meeting
the inmates, Ramdeen said the attack was premeditated
and a repeat of a similar beating in 2006.
"As I said, I expect to go to court tomorrow (today)
because the difficulty is that some marks on some of
the men are fading.
"Now all the inmates have been seen by the prison
doctor, Mr Mahabir, and all of them have been referred
to a medical institution outside the prison, so I think
that speaks to itself how serious it is. But for the future
litigation we want to ensure that we have pictures.
"Now all of the inmates have been seen, in Caura,
Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex and Arima
District Hospital," he added.
Ramdeen said the High Court order would be used
to get the injuries photographed for future use.
"I was involved in the litigation which arose out of
the 2006 riots and the exact identical situation in
2006 has repeated itself yesterday. Cause then they
were praying when the attack took place and last night
(Tuesday night) they were attacked," he added.
Ramdeen said according to the information he
received from his clients, a group mask-wearing,
baton-wielding and shield-bearing prison officers
stormed a section of the prison predominantly housing
Muslims and launched an unprovoked attack Tuesday
He said the inmates retaliated the following day,
resulting in the confrontation and subsequent lockdown
of the prison.
Ramdeen said it was undisputed that the alleged
confrontation Wednesday morning was in retaliation
over the Muslim inmates being beaten the previous
He added that despite the inmates attacking the
officers, it was an inmate who wrestled a shank away
from another inmate, ultimately saving the life of the
prison officer during that attack.
"The injuries are very serious and it is very unfor-
tunate that the authority vested with the power to
protect these inmates, especially here in the remand
section where they still have the presumption of inno-
cence, since they have not been convicted of anything,
to be put through such a horrific experience," Ramdeen
A statement from the Prisons Service on Wednesday
indicated that the officers, five in all, were attacked
by the inmates after they sought to prepare them for
The release said the officers attempted to search
an area of the prison when they were attacked and
were forced to call for back-up and ultimately shut
down the prison.
25 prisoners hire
lawyer in 'beating' case
PNM general secretary, Ashton Ford, right, introduces the party's candidate for
Chaguanas East, Parbatee Helen Maharaj, left, to members of the media following her
selection by the screening committee at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
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