Jan 12, 2016 News
-fear reprisals from rest of ‘killing spree’ gang
“Imagine when the police release the other gang members what would happen. We would all be scared since we now know what they are capable of doing…”
Shock, disbelief, anger and mostly fear were some of the emotions that were expressed by residents of the villages of Bush Lot and Plantation Hope, West Coast Berbice, when they learned that a group of young drug addicts from their communities were behind three recent gruesome murders in Bush Lot and Hope.
Yesterday, this newspaper visited the usually quiet community of Bush Lot and had a brief chat with residents after an 18-year-old that many described as “quiet”, confessed to robbing and murdering 81-year-old Doodnauth Rajkumar and his wife, Dianne Chammanlall, who resided in the same village.
The teen was identified as Neeman Rafeek called ‘Shazam,’ who was held minutes after the couple was slain.
Another teen, Gokun Madanpaul, is said to have linked the gang to the killing of 49-year-old Anita Baichan who burned to death in her burning Plantation Hope, WCB home after the building was set alight.
On Saturday, news of the couple’s death sent shockwaves throughout Bush Lot village since everyone lived as family and 81-year-old Rajkumar, the slain grocer, was like a ‘father-figure,’ who did not hesitate to help the needy.
Later that day, when two young villagers were taken from their homes by police, the residents were equally confused, and questioned whether the police were abusing their powers.
But a few hours later when one of the teens, Neeman Rafeek, confessed to killing the couple, the entire village went in a “silent mode”.
They questioned how this “young, vibrant and soft spoken boy” could be so heartless.
“Meh na know how we nah see this. When you look at this bai (Rafeek) you would feel sorry for he because he is quiet. He would go and come without saying anything to anyone,” one of the residents said.
Others, though, were not so surprised. They said that the teen is a small drug dealer in the village.
“This was just a matter of time. He has a lot of bad company and the drug use also corrupt him. He smoke and sells drugs. People from other villages does come here and buy from him. His house is always full with his friends,” one neighbour said.
The neighbours claimed that the teen is part of a gang which consists of about 15 drug addicts. Police have arrested most of the members as they continue with their investigation.
“Although we know them bai does smoke drugs and so, we had no idea dem was capable of doing such a thing. We see dem as errand boys,” a resident said.
Another stressed that the village has become a scary place now.
“Imagine when the police release the other gang members what would happen. We would all be scared since we now know what they are capable of doing.”
For another Bush Lot resident, a prominent businesswoman, the news was “too hard to stomach” since according to her, the village in her eyes was a peaceful place which is home to genuine and friendly people.
Asked if she knew the dead couple, she replied, “I knew them and they were very peaceful and nice people. The man was a gentleman, a father of this community, very quiet…”
The woman also related that after the incident, and the confession by one of the suspects, she can testify that drugs indeed played a major role in warping the minds of the perpetrators.
She said that ‘outside sources’ bring drugs into the community.
These sentiments were supported expressed by various other Bush Lot residents, yesterday.
“People does ride in and sell them dope (drugs), and everybody know. It even got people who does sell it in here (Bush Lot). Dem boys does come from other villages and sell it, all in the day time…De police really got to do something about it,” another resident, a rice farmer said.
Public drug use and loitering are also issues in the area, especially for business owners who complained about “Tom, Dick and Harry smoking dope and liming” late nights near street corners, roadside stands and in front of shops.
“Dem deh on all dem stands outside of the Bush Lot Nursery School and them does deh late late night time smoking… And you don’t know who is who,” another resident pointed out.
He stated that the police would often search the youths but would come up empty-handed.
However, in wake of the murder of the business couple, the farmer stated that village heads held a meeting two nights ago to discuss resuscitating the Village Policing Group, which was dormant for many years, due to the residents’ lack of cooperation.
“If the vigilante come back it would be good yes, but people got to come out and nah only come out for a couple hours and go back in, but patrol whole night. Even daytime too because sometimes during the day things happening…” he said.
At Plantation Hope, West Coast Berbice, members of the same gang allegedly attacked Anita Baichan and badly injured her son Moshim Khan.
Mother and son were bound with duct tape and repeatedly beaten to hand over ‘more money.’
Their home set alight while they were inside. The son managed to escape, while his mother was burnt alive.
Police had initially suspected persons close to the family of setting up the attack.
However, following his arrest on Saturday, one of the teens, Gokun Madanpaul, confessed to helping to kill Mrs. Baichan, and admitted his involvement in the killing of the couple at Bush Lot.
He was allegedly assisted by a former murder accused.
He allegedly told police that hours before invading Anita Baichan’s Plantain Hope, West Coast Berbice home, he and the former murder accused entered an abandoned house which is located near to Mrs. Baichan’s property.
There, the suggestion came up about robbing Mrs. Baichan.
They then left the house, and while walking in the community, they used a cutlass to ‘broadside’ the hut of a guard who was on duty at a school. They also relieved the guard of his bicycle.
The two men then headed to Mrs. Baichan’s home, and one of them entered through a window, before letting his accomplice in.
He said they attacked Baichan and her son, Moshim Khan, in their bedrooms. They then set the house alight.
Yesterday, some villagers of Plantation Hope were happy and relieved that the killers were caught. The community is now a safer place with the arrest of the gang, they said.
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