I WANT VISHALA HOME
By NEWSDAY STAFF Monday, July 9 2012
“I NEVER meant to hurt her.”
This was the declaration yesterday by Kamla Ramcharan as she spoke for the first time about the incident on June 14, when she placed the left hand of her eight-year-old daughter Vishala Bickharie on a heated tawah, causing the child to suffer third degree burns.
For that act, Ramcharan was sentenced to three years imprisonment when she stood before Chaguanas Magistrate Gillian David-Scotland on June 25. Ramcharan pleaded guilty to the charge of assault with actual bodily harm to Vishala.
She left the Women’s Prison in Golden Grove, Arouca, on Saturday having posted $50,000 bail after her attorney Carol Cuffy-Dowlat filed a notice of appeal against the three-year sentence last Friday before Justice Maria Wilson in the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain.
Ramcharan was reunited with three of her four children — daughters Tiffany Mungal, 12, and Stephanie Mungal, 14, and son Josiah Singh, two — at the family’s Railway Road, Longdenville, home. Missing however was Vishala, who has since been staying at the Chase Village, Chaguanas, home of her father Navin Bickharie.
As she was hugged by her daughters Stephanie and Tiffany, Ramcharan said she has not seen or spoken to her eight-year-old daugter Vishala Bickharie, since being arrested on June 19, after Vishala complained to her father Navin, about being burned.
Ramcharan yesterday said she has nothing but love in her heart for all of her children and wants Vishala to come back home and the family to be united. As she held her two-year-old son Josiah Singh on her lap, Ramcharan said, “I just want to move on from this episode in my life and bring back my family together.”
On June 14, Vishala was accused of stealing $5 from a classmate at the Montrose Vedic Primary School. Ramcharan later picked Vishala up from school and carried her home. Ramcharan then lit a burner of a stove and placed the tawah on it. She then put Vishala’s left hand on the heated tawah.
Her eyes reddening with tears during yesterday’s interview, Ramcharan said she merely wanted to frighten Vishala into admitting that she had stolen the money from a classmate. “It wasn’t the first time she did something like that,” Ramcharan said of her daughter.
She said she begged Vishala to admit taking the money. “About ten minutes I begged this child. When I realise like she was not taking me on, I lit the stove. I am not lying. I lit the stove. I put the tawah on to the stove thinking it would frighten her. I told her, ‘Vishala if you do not tell me the truth I will put your hand on that tawah’,” Ramcharan said.
She said she placed her daughter’s hand on the tawah for less than a second by which time Vishala admitted to taking the money. The mother, tears streaming down her face, reiterated that she did not mean to harm her child.
“I want to see her, I called her father yesterday and he said he would call me back. I have called him twice but I haven’t got any response. I am going to fight for her. And if I don’t get custody, I will try at least to get visitation rights. Vishala is my child and they just can’t keep her away from me.
“For me, I just want to move on. I hope to reunite my family and have all of my children back. I don’t want my daughters growing up apart. I don’t want my other daughters to think it was Vishala’s fault (that the family is split). I don’t want that,” Ramcharan said as she wiped away tears.
Stephanie and Tiffany, who stood on either side of their mother, stroked Ramcharan’s hair and her face during the interview. One of them was heard telling Ramcharan not to cry.
“I am their mother, they are one, that is how I teach them. I just want to move on from this episode in my life and bring back my family together,” Ramcharan said.
Asked about her time at the Women’s Prison in Golden Grove, Ramcharan said the only time she cried while behind bars, was when she could not attend the graduation ceremony for Tiffany, a student of the Montrose Vedic Primary School who sat the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam and passed for Couva East Government Secondary.
“I told God I cannot stay inside here because I cannot stay away from my children. I have stood with my children right through, it has not always been easy but I have always been there,” Ramcharan said.
“On the day of her graduation, I sat down and cried. I read in the Newsday an interview in which she (Tiffany) said how I had been there for her older sister’s (Stephanie) graduation and how I would miss hers. My heart was empty. I could not do anything except cry,” Ramcharan said.
“All I could do was ask God to give Tiffany the knowledge to understand why I wasn’t there,” a sobbing Ramcharan said. Tiffany, at this point in the interview, wiped away her mother’s tears.
Ramcharan said her fellow inmates at the Women’s Prison were fully supportive and prayed with her. While acknowledging that there are several set conditions that she must adhere to for her bail to remain, Ramcharan said she plans to return to work as a salesperson.
Some of the conditions set by Justice Wilson in the granting of bail are that Ramcharan seeks counselling at the Probation Department and she must report to the Chaguanas Police Station between 6 am and 6 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
A Probation Officer’s report is expected to be submitted to Wilson who will next hear the appeal of sentence case on September 21. When Newsday visited the Bickharie residence in Chase Village yesterday, a female relative said that Vishala’s father Navin was not at home and no one else in the family wanted to be interviewed.