The alleged ‘exorcism gone wrong’ that occurred in Canal Number Two Polder has created a dangerous precedence in the community that has led to the intervention of Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission Bishop Juan Edghill. His hope is that this matter will be put to rest.
The ERC Chairman, yesterday, said that to his knowledge, based on interviews he conducted in the community on Wednesday “nothing criminal occurred”. He noted, though, that maybe the relevant authorities should investigate to see if the death resulted from a medical malpractice or condition.
Nanda Jaikissoon and her relatives as well as Bishop Edghill hosted a press conference yesterday in the Ethnic Relations Commission building in the company of Pastor Ewart Cummings of the Christ Ambassador Church, Canal Number Two, and sought to clear the air on several misconceptions and pronouncements regarding the unfolding that preceded the demise of Sangeeta Persaud.
It was confirmed that while the community comprises people who mostly practise Hinduism as a way of life, some have converted to Christianity much to the dislike of a few who are believed to be the source of rumours.
The Bishop said he spoke with the girl’s mother who herself is a Christian and several other members of the community, hence the press conference.
It was reported that Sangeeta Persaud, called Sheena, succumbed at the West Demerara Regional Hospital on March 28 after efforts by members of her church to ‘free her from spirits’ failed.
Bishop Juan Edghill visited the dead teen’s parents on Wednesday in Westminster Parfaitt Harmonie. He also visited the grandmother’s house and the church at Canal Number Two. There he met with church members, the pastor, the girl’s parents as well as her grandmother.
The Bishop said that in his assessment he has found that it was a genuine case of people who are practising Christians, who would have experienced the power of God and would have taken their daughter to be prayed for because she was having unusual manifestations. Those included her barking like a dog, grunting like a pig and screaming.
The pastor reported that he visited the house and prayed for the girl and the manifestations continued. The next option was the house of God. She was taken there and several persons prayed for her unceasingly until the teen became calm several hours later.
The teen, according to the pastor, was very weak and it was he who recommended that she be taken to the hospital.
Bishop Edghill’s finding was that the teen, once she arrived at the hospital, was administered about three bags of saline and injections. She died in the presence of her mother.
The Bishop said that contrary to reports in the media, the teen’s body had no physical marks of violence.
The pastor’s statements included the fact that he did not give the teen anything to eat or drink at anytime during the prayer session and the mother concurred.
“It was just prayers being said in the presence of the mother, grandmother and church members. It was not a private affair,” Bishop Edghill said.
The bishop concluded that whatever transpired needs to be properly investigated to find out the real cause of the girl’s death. He said that “it is very distasteful that a religious group is being vilified because of the death of a child and a community is in disquiet because of unsubstantiated reporting.”
“Every day people carry their loved ones to religious houses to be prayed for when they show signs of abnormal supernatural behaviour,” the ERC chairman said.
He was also emphatic that people die at hospitals where the best doctors are present. “I don’t like the spin as it carries with it the potential to create confusion and disquiet in communities, especially since the pastor is an Afro Guyanese and his wife is indo Guyanese.”
He believes that mischief is afoot in creating this kind of misleading story in the media.
This publication was told that one of the more verbose women who initially spoke to the media has admitted that she was nowhere close to the location when the prayers were being said.
On another front, reports are that the lass and grandmother were in the habit of taking baths in the open yard and while no one saw it fit to assist, it was the pastor who ensured that a bathroom was built “out of love for the people.”
The mother in the presence of pastors, said that at no time was her daughter ever touched in the pubic area and at no time did she bleed and had to be cleaned up. But the mother said that she did change the girl’s clothing to take her to the hospital. (Mondale Smith)
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