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I want ‘Bhaji’ and roti

By DARCEL CHOY and JANELLE DE SOUZA Thursday, November 22 2012

click on pic to zoom in
SMILES ALL AROUND: Fasting re-route movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh (lying down) is greeted by former prime minister Basdeo Panday yesterday, day...
SMILES ALL AROUND: Fasting re-route movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh (lying down) is greeted by former prime minister Basdeo Panday yesterday, day...

RE-ROUTE Movement leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, on the seventh day of his hunger strike in protest of the Mon Desir to Debe section of the Point Fortin to San Fernando Highway, yesterday told former prime minister Basdeo Panday, that when he breaks his fast, he (Kublalsingh) wants Panday to personally make him a meal of ‘chiroi’ bhagi (spinach), roti with butter and a cup of tea, “with plenty condensed milk.”

“But you are a brave man to be thinking of food while you outside here fasting,” Panday told Kublalsingh as he lay on a bench on the sidewalk outside the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair. Kublalsingh asked Panday, if he could hug him. Panday said, “no, it is I who will hug you”. Panday then bent down and hugged Kublalsingh.

When Panday arrived at about 1 pm, he asked Kublalsingh how he was doing. “Well my lips are dry and I am a bit dehydrated. But other than that, I am ok,” Kublalsingh replied.

Speaking to members of the media after, Panday said the Government had handled the matter badly and if he were Prime Minister he would not have allowed it to reach this far.

“I believe whenever there is a human problem there is a human answer and if the problem is handled properly you could find an answer,” Panday said. He continued, “People are entitled to protest, listen to them, that is the answer. Listening to them doesn’t merely mean coming and putting a table and you sitting down on a stage telling them to talk. That is not listening to them, listening to them is listening to them in a meaningful kind of way. Deal with it in a serious manner.”

Leader of the Opposition, Dr Keith Rowley also visited on the request of Kublalsingh. Rowley was told about everything those in the movement had endured since their protest. Kublalsingh then asked the Opposition Leader if they can meet again, “after this is over.”

“I can’t tell the Government how to conduct its political business but I could suggest how to conduct the national business. I hope in the immediate future that some position could be found which would be accepting to you and the government. I respect what you are doing, and I hope that this can end soon before a man is dead,” Rowley told Kublalsingh.

Next to visit was Roman Catholic priest Fr Clyde Harvey and Pastor Clive Dottin who prayed with him.

In a statement yesterday evening, the executive of the National Joint Action Commitee (NJAC)

called upon its political leader and Cultural Ambassador to Caricom Makandal Daaga, to ask Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to meet with Kublalsingh soon.

Also present yesterday was Kublalsingh’s brother Hayden who said his brother was reducsed to, “a walking bag of skin and bones.”

Hayden said his brother had lost 42 pounds and now weighs 93 pounds. He noted that Wayne was now mostly lying or sitting and suspected him to be in discomfort and pain. Hayden pointed out however, that Wayne was being monitored regularly by medical personnel and his vital signs had fluctuated over the past three to four days.

“He has been living off oxygen, air, and nothing but an inner strength, a sense of purpose, a sense of will and a sense of determination to bring some measure of sanity and closure to this re-route activity on behalf of the people of the Re-route Movement.”

Hayden told the media he was not sure how long the hunger strike would last as his brother could collapse at any time, but he hoped Wayne would be taken to a medical facility before extensive damage to Wayne’s body occurred. He said the situation was difficult for his family to accept, but they did not want to disrespect the pain and suffering he is going through, and so would go along with Wayne’s wishes, as long as he was deemed to be coherent.

About 12.30 pm however, with a burst of energy, Wayne sat up, got off the recliner on which he was laying under a tent, and attempted to stand on a stump on the sidewalk. Not having enough energy to do so, he was assisted by supporters.

Once perched atop the stump, Wayne shouted, “re-route. More power to the people” and assured all that his vitals were fine. He said when he became jeopardised, he would tell the private ambulance, hired by his family, and he would be taken to the Port-of Spain General Hospital.

“I am extremely amazed at my body. After six and a half days it’s still going strong. I feel very strong,” he announced. “I would like to assure you that when things get serious and they become critical, I will call the state agency and they will take care of me.”

Hayden pointed out that the only resolution to the matter would be for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to acknowledge that she would keep her word. This would mean pausing the construction of the Mon Desir to Debe section of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension project; conducting a proper technical review of the section, and to appointing a committee consisting of technical experts of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, the Highway Re- route Movement, and independent experts. Hayden also lambasted the manner in which Persad-Bissessar responded to his mother’s letter asking the PM to meet with her son. “The PM chose to respond in a very political way, and upon giving the letter to my mother, which I’m very happy that the PM took some time to respond to, she immediately sent it to all the media as if it were a national issue, instead of her personal thoughts to my mother,” said Hayden.

Before leaving for home yesterday evening, Kublalsingh assured: “I’ll be here again tomorrow.”

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