The country is heart-broken over the senseless murder of Andrea Bharatt who has become a household name, now adopted as everyone’s daughter or sister. Let me extend condolence to the family! This beautiful young lady had just begun to live her life. As aptly stated on social media by a restaurant owner in Florida, “She is a pretty flower that did not get to bloom because of the dastard act of evil minds”.
Andrea’s cultural passion and “Trininess” was admirable; she made a fantastic video of a typical Hindu wedding that went viral.
A young girl, merely 23, returning home from her job at a magistrate court, was kidnapped, abused, soiled, killed, and dumped overboard down a ravine of labyrinthe depth. A helicopter was required to stoop down and recover her broken body. What happened to this young lady is indescribable. It was a heinous, most brutal, inhumane act.
There is much media publicity over the murder and spontaneous public protest with everyone calling for justice. Some sections of the media are insensitive and heartless – instead of focusing on the young lady, they are focusing on belly and corporate income. For example, one talk show host opted to share a recipe on “how to make dhal” rather than provide comfort to people who are in distress over the rape and murder.
This prompted a social commentator to pen this critique: “Why have we grown so cold blooded that a crime of this magnitude is not given the prominence it deserves in the media? It seems that when it’s our child or sibling or parents that only then are we moved to express our feelings. If Andrea was a celebrity or the daughter of a prominent politician, the headlines would have been splurging nonstop with the story. There is one justice for the well-to- do and the connected and another for the poor. The hypocritical adherence to our laws must be exposed. Are we in a state where, according to the famous Christian philosopher St Augustine that true justice could only be realized in the kingdom of heaven?”
As a colleague penned, “Talk about championing causes and to avoid a heinous crime like the death of Andrea is not ONLY cowardice and immorality but also insanity. Why do individuals talk big but when it’s time to stand up? Too many of our self-appointed heroes are hoodwinking the community. They are a bunch of opportunists. They should be presented with an apron to encourage their hobby to make videos of Indo-Caribbean recipes”.
What happened to Andrea can happen to another person in an environment where crime has skyrocketed. Thus, the public should not take illusory comfort in their home or office and wish away this problem. The critic wisely advise: “We must recast our focus on the gravity of such crime, just imagining if Andrea was one of our own”.There is a growing lack of faith in the judicial system. As someone commented: “The police and judiciary are useless in doing anything serious and have been so for decades. Why are police generally so incompetent and have been so for decades. And the police also appear to have no fear of being held to account. Why do the criminals appear to have no fear of the police, unlike what happens in many other countries outside the region? Why is the judiciary so complacent and disorganized, apparently so easy for criminals to manipulate?
The nation demands justice. Those responsible, including those conspired in the kidnapping and who disclosed information about the girl’s whereabouts, must face the law – the death penalty is warranted. Nothing less is required for these criminals who display mentality of a beast.
Government must take a more activist approach to bring the plotters and perpetrators to justice or else people will lose confidence in government to protect them. People may take the law in their own hands. One commentator on social media penned: ‘We can raise our voices! We can protest! We can assist the family. We can set up a foundation in her name. Should we also set up our private security arrangement when the state fails to protect us? What are our options?”
The country should look at ways of curbing this abuse and assaults of the nation’s women while in transport mode using taxis. The death penalty for the perpetrators or rape and murder is warranted. Is the death penalty still in force? In the case of Guyana, Guyanese are calling for the restoration of the death penalty for dastardly related crimes.
Contrary to what some may feel, capital punishment is a deterrence. The death penalty sends a strong message against would be criminals. As an illustration, in Guyana, the dictator Desmond Hoyte resumed hanging in 1987 resulting in a dramatic downturn of crime when a few hard core murderers were hung. Fear of being hung sends jitters down the spine of those on death row. One can’t imitate in T&T a policy or objection to the death penalty of a developed country. Hanging would send the right signal to would be criminals. It would help to reduce crime. At any rate, the government must take decisive action against criminals to send a strong message that crimes would not be tolerated.
It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens. That is its primary responsibility. It must respond promptly against those who engage in serious acts of violence. Government should also consider compensating victims of serious crime. There are precedents. In the US, for example, civil actions are brought against criminals for wrongful death. Imprisonment or the death penalty is just one form of punishment. Another form is to provide monetary relief. It won’t solve crime. But at a minimum, it would address the pain and anguish of family members of victims.The country demands justice for Andrea.