Kaieteur News- Last September’s brutal murders of the Henry cousins led to the creation of narratives aimed at explaining the murders, justifying certain responses and denying certain facts. These hastily-constructed narratives influenced the public’s perception of the circumstances which led to the deaths as well as justified the violent reactions which followed the murders.
One of those narratives was that since the boys bodies were found in a predominantly East Indian area that the deaths were as a result of race-hate. Some disgraced politicians capitalized on this narrative, going as far as urging villagers to defend themselves.
Violence erupted just after the deaths and intensified following this narrative of communal hatred. People were beaten and robbed, vehicles vandalized and roads blocked, all in the name of justice.
A rice-farming family faced the brunt of the suspicions fomented following the discovery of the bodies. Their home was attacked on the very night of the incident. Family members were arrested and detained. Not long after the grandson, of one of the men arrested, was killed in what may have been a reprisal.
Narratives were even created for the death of this teenager, Haresh Singh. These narratives were meant to deny that retaliation was the motive for his death. One narrative was that those who killed Haresh were attempting to silence him for what he may have known about the Henry boys’ death. It was also alleged that Haresh was associated with the boys, a fact denied by his family. These narratives were intended to deflect from the motive of a retaliatory killing.
Another narrative, not unfamiliar in murder cases, is that the boys were angels. They were innocent of wrongdoing. They would go into the backdams to pick coconuts, and there was no need for them to steal any coconuts since the family also had a coconut farm. This narrative further added to the speculation that the Henry boys deaths amounted to a crime of race-hate.
People tend to hold on to narratives once it justifies what they believe or what they wish others to believe. People latch on to narratives because it helps to deny what they wish to be denied. It was even alleged during the police investigation that a politically-exposed person had told the family to say that the deaths were race-based. This allegation, if true, would suggest that there were forces seeking to keep the race-based narrative alive.
There were therefore a number of narratives which were swirling around following the deaths of the Henry cousins. It is in this context that pressure was being brought to bear on the police to find the killers and to do so quickly.
The police have now made arrests and filed charges. It is alleged that the police have a confession. However, if what the police is suggesting is true, it means that the narratives that were previously pedalled are now totally discredited.
And people do not like to believe that they were wrong or were being led astray. They will stick to their original positions instead of being seen to be proven wrong. This accounts for some of the reservations which are being expressed about the guilt of the men who are now before the court
If what the police is saying is true, then the race-hate narrative has to be thrown through the window. It also means that much of the violence which ensued was based on a fiction.
Secondly, if what the police is saying is true, then it means that the murdered Henry cousins were not the angels which they were made out to be. And this too may explain the resistance to accepting that the police may have solved the case.
The family of the two cousins is asking for evidence, apart from confession. This will have to come during the trial. So, they will have to be patient. But they would know that if hundreds of persons trampled on the crime scene and then the police were blocked for days from getting to that location, the chances of unearthing valuable forensic evidence is reduced.
Given the compromising of the crime scene and the inability of the delays of the investigators in accessing the crime scene, the best chance of solving the crime depended on human intelligence. And it appears that this is what led to the present charges.
But in so doing, a great many of the narratives which were used for explanation, justification and denial have been dismantled. And this may explain why there is resistance to persons accepting that the crime has been solved.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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