Of all the characters in the Ramayana, my heart goes out to Kumbhakaran, a younger brother of Ravana, the demonic king of Lanka. Fond of eating, drinking, and sleeping, Kumbhakaran was awakened from his deep slumber to fight in a battle that was not of his making. But, after eating the salt of Ravana, he opted to die in battle rather than be called a neemakharam!
Enquiring about the cause of the war, Kumbhakaran was shocked to learn that his elder brother, King Ravana, was the cause of the war and it was brought about after he kidnapped a woman. Not having a choice in the matter, Kumbhakaran marched into battle and was killed.
Kumbhakaran represents those individuals who chose to be unaware of their surroundings until it is too late. Had Kumbhakaran led a more balanced life, he would have been able to play a more active role in the administration of the Kingdom of Lanka. Unfortunately, he was engrossed in his personal ambitions which did not go beyond self-indulgence. Social justice and dharma were out of his reach as he went about his hedonistic ways.
The fate of Kumbhakaran has been the calamity of many who ignored the wrongs of governments. They never protested when others were affected. Always putting their personal gains above the welfare of the community, they went to sleep when others were crying out in pain.
Crime is a runaway horse, and no one is immune to it. Everyone knows that the policies of the government have exacerbated criminal activities. The growing underclass has been brought up on a diet of state dependency. Programs like URP and CEPEP have been generated to keep a large section of the people dependent on the State and at the beck and call of politicians.
The Marabuntas, one of the earliest gangs of Port of Spain, was mobilized against the Opposition in the early 1960s. Using the train, members of the Marabuntas were taken to the rural towns of Tunapuna and Chaguanas where they would disrupt DLP meetings. Today the culture of criminal gangs has become entrenched in the society thanks to the PNM.
What was the view of Kamal Mohammed on the Marabuntas? Did he have the fortitude to tell the Prime Minister that using the strong arms of the Marabuntas is akin to the State aiding and abetting in criminal activities? Kamal Mohammed sat in parliament like Kumbhakaran and took whatever goodies came his way without batting an eyelid. Today, Rohan Sinanan, Kazim Hosein and Renuka Sagram-Sooklal are incarnations of Kamal Mohammed. Again, like Kumbhakaran they have chosen to live for their personal wellbeing and interest until it would be too late.
Why the PNM continues to win San Fernando West? The increasing number of HDC developments has fundamentally changed the culture of San Fernando. Today, the indigenous people of San Fernando are unable to walk the streets because of the fear of crime. Have they ever protested this policy of the government bringing ‘strangers’ into their neighborhoods for voter padding?
Time and again I have heard critics of the UNC complaining to me that the UNC failed to put the right candidate to win the San Fernando West constituency. Is that argument plausible? Are you voting for an individual or the policies of a political party? In 2019 the social background of Sean Sobers, the INC candidate for San Fernando West, was called into question? Being San Fernando born and a lawyer was not good enough for many.
If Sean Sobers was out of his league, why was Raziah Ahmed, the UNC candidate of 2015 defeated? She was President of the Senate and a former Minister, an author, lecturer in business studies, columnist and President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors to list a few of her achievements. Yet, Ms. Raziah Ahmed was not good enough for the people of San Fernando West.
Crime is a real issue in HDC communities. Rennee Rogers, in an article titled HDC and Commissioner of Police discuss safety and security matters (June 4, 2019) reported that officials of the HDC had to hold talks with the CoP to evict illegal occupants of HDC houses.
The crime hot spot in Couva is not Orange Valley or Phoenix Park but the HDC Pt Lisas development in the vicinity of the Pt Lisas round-a-bout. The police are continuously patroling that district because of the numerous illegal activities. Student traversing to schools and adults are at risk of get robbed or killed in regular shoot outs. Also, there is an escalation in burglaries that keeps on climbing.
Nevertheless, the Kumbhakarans are awakening, and we must applaud them. Or is it too late? Would the leaders who are protesting the encroachment of the HDC in Todd’s Street, San Fernando win the critical number of supporters to have the government reverse their decisions? I fear being too optimistic. I think it is too late. Like the events in Lanka, Kumbhakaran had no choice but to march into the battlefield to be killed in a war not of his making. Had he been awake and alert, he would have exercised some control over the actions of Ravana.