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Search for missing workers:
Gunmen fire at Guysuco aircraft
`We’re living in wonder right now…we’re just hoping and praying and hoping and praying’ – Lenny, a relative

By Mark Ramotar

GUNMEN fired at a small Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) aircraft deployed in the search for two of the corporation’s workers missing since Saturday, sources said yesterday.

SEARCH INTENSIFIED: police vehicles join the search yesterday. (Quacy Sampson photos)
The aircraft was not hit by bullets fired from men nestled in a `jamoon’ (wild fruit) tree as it circled low over the Buxton/Vigilance back lands searching for the two men Sunday, the sources told the Guyana Chronicle.

Police and relatives, neighbours and friends of the two men who mysteriously vanished, intensified the search yesterday but hopes for their rescue dimmed as the third day passed without success.

Up to press time last night, there was still no word on the whereabouts of Sampersaud Taranauth, called ‘Shammie’, 37, and Maikhram Sawh, called ‘Bharrat’, 46.

The two men disappeared on Saturday while cleaning a canal in the Vigilance back dam.

The sugar corporation threw the aircraft into the search Sunday as police, relatives and others scoured the back dam for the men.

Sources said they heard shots Sunday as the aircraft circled the area and others yesterday confirmed that the light plane was the target.

DISTRAUGHT: the wife and daughter of Maikhram Sawh, Jaso and Monica, sitting, being consoled by two women at their Non Pariel home last evening. They were near their phone, hoping for good news.
As hopes for finding the men faded, their families travelled to Georgetown yesterday seeking further help in the search from top government officials.

The Guyana Chronicle understands that they are to meet Police Commissioner Winston Felix this morning to discuss the next step forward.

Relatives yesterday tried to see government officials about getting help from the Army to search for the men.

They said they met Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj and Crime Chief Henry Greene.

It is understood that Mr Gajraj assured them that the police were doing everything in their power to find the men.

Bharrat’s son, Lakeram, said he asked Gajraj if it was possible for the Army to help in the search but was told that the police were handling the issue at this point in time and were trying their utmost to find them.

Following the meeting with the minister, heavily-armed police in patrol vehicles moved several times into the back lands yesterday afternoon as the search intensified.

At around 14:30 h, five police vehicles with heavily-armed policemen in combat gear entered the area from Enterprise while two other patrol vehicles moved in from Lusignan.

The police took the GUYSUCO foreman, Gobin Ram, who was Saturday in charge of the men who are missing, with them to show them exactly where Shammie and Bharrat were working when they disappeared.

Some two-and-a-half hours later, and after walking and searching some three miles along the canals going to the Brusche Dam area in Buxton, the police convoy returned empty-handed.

The police did not venture into the Buxton back dam, sources said.

Premdat Seedath, called `Lenny’, the husband of Shammie’s sister-in-law, was the other civilian who went into the back dam with the police.

“We’re living in wonder right now…we’re just hoping and praying and hoping and praying,” Lenny told the Guyana Chronicle shortly after he returned from the fruitless search.

He said that when his mother died at a city hospital a few years ago, it did not hurt him as much because he knew what had happened and had come to accept the fact that she had passed away.

But in this instance, Lenny said the situation is totally different, since nobody knows what happened or where the men are.

Shammie’s wife, Kamini, continued to hope and pray that her husband was alive somewhere and would return home soon.

She said her six-year-old daughter, Sarah, who understands a little of what is going on, went to the family ‘altar’ Sunday morning and offered flowers and prayers for her father’s safe return home.

At the Bharrats home, scores of relatives and friends gathered as they tried to console the missing man’s wife, son and daughter.

A police source told this newspaper that someone called the Vigilance Police Station yesterday morning and told the Sergeant there that the two men were being held against their will in an ‘old church building’ in Buxton.

It is understood that the police searched the building without success.
President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Komal Chand visited the families of the sugar workers and assured them that the union will do everything within its power to help.

The two men and two others were assigned to clean trenches in fields aback of Vigilance Saturday when they disappeared.

The four had left their bicycles in one location before heading into the fields to clean the sideline trenches.

They divided the task with two cleaning from one end and the other two from the other end and were to have met in the middle.

But when the other two men finished their section, they did not see the others and the police were alerted after they were not found.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005