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REMEMBER JAHAAJEE MASSACRE

posted 29 Oct 2012, 08:37 by Gerry Kangalee

In Colonial Trinidad, stringent rules were passed in 1884 July 30, to suppress Indians. Laws were enacted to prevent them from taking out processions during the Madrassee Festival also referred to as Temiterna and the Hosay.

The object was to restrict them within the confines of the estate, prevent them from venturing into the roads and into the towns. The intention was also to prevent them from joint processions with other estates. Defiance of that colonial plan led to the Jahajee massacre which took place at Balidan Tola, Mon Repos ((near the fire station)) and Cross Crossing, San Fernando  on the occasion of Hosay on October 30, 1884.

The attempts of the administration to contain the Indians within the plantations and the increasing discontent of the Indians were leading inexorably to a major conflict. Sookoo, a driver from Philipine Estate organized a petition signed by 31 representatives of different estates to protest the regulations foisted on their festivals.

When the court turned down the appeal Sookoo said to the interpreter, Francis Mewa, "Ham bheek na mangbe – We shall not beg. Ab ham larbe – Now we shall fight!" There were many efforts at the estate levels to prevent the processions from going to San Fernando. The organizers assured managers that there could be no threats because that Tazias were small and they had no intention to leave the estates.
 
The late Dr. Ken Parmasad, lecturer at UWI, who has researched the subject, explained, "Actually all the tazias from over 30 estates and villages were informally smaller to allow mobility. This shows that there was ongoing communication and clever planning."

Bal Gopal Singh, a free Indian of over 20 years, owner of two shops, was one of the heroes of the day. He sat astride a horse, wielding a sword and forced the gates at the Philipine Estate open in the face of Dopson, the manager's ominous warning, “they will be shot if they went to San Fernando." That procession and another from the direction of Reform grew in strength as other groups joined them on the way. A third tributary originating from Pointe-a-Pierre, aborted their journey midway.
 
Boodhoosingh and Ramdhun, two shopkeepers of great influence, failed to change the minds of the determined Jahajees who refused to turn back. When they told them about the shooting in Les Efforts they replied: " Ham Petit Boog jaibe hi! – we will certainly go to San Fernando." "shoot him all man (let us all be shot)".

The colonial authorities were certainly ready as armed police were deployed in many areas, Princess Town, St. James, Port of Spain, Couva, Chaguanas and St. Joseph, but it was San Fernando that received special attention, 80 armed police ( twice as many as stationed in Port of Spain) as well as the HMS Dido stood off San Fernando. Parmasad said, "Never before such force assembled was shown in colonial Trinidad nor the Caribbean at any cultural event."

The procession moved along to San Fernando. Chants filled the air, Tassa broadcast the spirit of the Jahajees, Then, suddenly! Burst of buck shots joined the rhythm of the tassa drums. Cries of pain and confusion rent the air. Gun smoke…blood…death. Balidaan – Sacrifice, Mother Trinidad received her offerings.

Twenty two (22) lay dead, over one hundred and Twenty (120) were wounded. How many died later of their injuries…we do not know.

By Ravi Ji.

NAME ESTATE AGE
JAGGERNATH UNION
GILDARI UNION 26
MANOO
EMAN KHAN CUPAR GRANGE
CHADDEE CUPAR GRANGE
NABEBOCUS CUPAR GRANGE 35
DIPCHAN JORDAN HILL 36
MOODIT BIEN VENUE 29
AMEER KHAN JORDAN HILL 28
RAMNATH (FREE) PHILIPINE 28
HUNGLEE (FREE)
CHAYDAR CORINTH
ABDOOL-KUNIA PETITE MORNE
SEETAL PETITE MORNE
RAMGOLAM TAROUBA
CHOWTONIC PETITE MORNE
CHOWTAH PETITE MORNE
SADARSINGH
and 4 unknown
THIS INFORMATION WAS COMPILED BY THE LATE

 
DR. KEN PARMASAD
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