It has an eerie air of déja vu and it is a serious attempt to cloud the real issue: That of the serious allegations — backed by documents whose authenticity no one has challenged — against an attorney general using his office to facilitate unlawful acts.
The modus operandi is the same. You first hear of your imminent arrest on the radio. Then your house is encircled and all the exits blocked. Radio communication, a search warrant brandished in front of your nose but which you are not allowed to read, police cruisers, cops climbing over your wall, a full-fledged, spectacular police operation. After these initial intimidatory and traumatising tactics, your questioning under warning is carried out by embarrassed cops who wish they were instead allowed to get on with their job of fighting real crime and protecting the citizenry… At the end of this ordeal, a provisional charge may be lodged against you and you may or may not be allowed to go home for the night.
We have seen it all and denounced it all. This reign of terror started with systematically attacking politicians from the opposition and those perceived to be close to them. Then ordinary citizens were targeted: The Ruhomallys, Sookuns, Rawats…Then there was a reprieve during which we saw all the provisional charges against the citizens being thrown out by our courts of law, followed by a series of claims for compensation for the ordeal inflicted upon innocent citizens! Claims which of course will be settled by us — the taxpayers.
You will have noticed that not a single member of the government or their supporters has ever had to worry about any inconvenience, let alone such an ordeal. We have watched one episode after another: Raj Dayal's Bal couler, the Dufry scandal of Pravind Jugnauth, Ravi Yerrigadoo, Roshi Bhadain and Rakesh Gooljaury, Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo's Euro loan, the serious allegations of involvement with notorious detained drug traffickers against Roubina Jadoo, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry and Raouf Gulbul, the alleged 'gifts' from Álvaro Sobrinho to ministers and the president, Yerrigadoogate… Still, not a single one of these people has had his/her house raided. On the other hand, our colleagues, arrested on very flimsy accusations by an avowed swindler, have seen the police swoop on their homes at 4 am. and snoop through their belongings! Pray tell, what exactly were they hoping to find? And what did they find? As for prying into their bank accounts, how ironic!
While public opinion is focused on journalists walking in and out of the Line Barracks, some pictures stored in our memory are beginning to fade into oblivion: the policeman who hanged himself with a towel while in police custody, the Human Rights Commission which was silenced as soon as it started protesting, Sandhya Boygah's brother who is allowed to travel freely in spite of the drug trafficking allegations against him, the findings of the Commission of Enquiry on Drugs… and of course, Yerrigadoogate.
Unfortunately, this surreal episode, straight from a horror movie, also brings back some nightmares. This week, my mind went back to 1984 and I saw Dr. Philippe Forget sitting outside Government House with dozens of his colleagues protesting against a repressive law meant to silence the press, enacted by the then prime minister, Anerood Jugnauth, and his MSM-dominated government. I also saw Gaëtan Duval, once he was out of government and therefore out of favour with Anerood Jugnauth, in the Line Barracks, facing the death penalty with the witness giving a statement against him in Jugnauth's house while the then-minister of justice had no idea about the case.
We are back in the 80s. Everything we have fought for and won is being threatened again. The same ruling family. The same hostility against the press. The same attempt to finish opponents. The same ways. Dr. Forget is not gone. Gaëtan Duval is not dead. "I am only pretending," he had said.
We are not treated equally. The press is not free. We can't even pretend!
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