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Garcia receives principal’s report

Published: 
Monday, May 28, 2018

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says he has received a report from the principal of the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College which gave details of the incident where OJT Nafisah Nakhid was turned away from the school because she was wearing a hijab.

He said the report quotes the principal as saying that the conversation with Nakhid ended “very amicably” and the person left.

Garcia said the principal’s report indicated that Nakhid came to the school and the principal said she sat with her in the presence of the vice principal and they explained to her the position of the Board, which is “that it does not allow persons on the compound wearing the hijab.”

The principal in her report stated that the school is on the Maha Sabha compound. According to Garcia, the principal states the conversation ended “very amicably and the person left. That is the report I have. I am not commenting on the report, that is what the report states.”

The report is similar to what Nakhid has been saying after she went public with the issue. The graduate in mechanical engineering from UWI said last week that she was “traumatised” by the incident.

Garcia said the Ministry has asked Maha Sabha Secretary General Sat Maharaj for a report. “I will refer both reports to the Attorney General,” he said yesterday.

But with or without a report from Maharaj, he said, “Cabinet has decided that we will seek an interpretation from the Court. This is a very sensitive issue. It is generally felt that the action of the Maha Sabha is contrary to the Constitution of this country. It is therefore important to get an interpretation from the court,” Garcia said.

Yesterday, UNC Member of Parliament for Tabaquite Dr Suruj Rambachan, himself a pundit, said he did not believe that Sat Maharaj’s statement urging Hindus to “free the Hindu vote,” and to vote for anyone other than Persad-Bissessar would hurt the UNC.

Rambachan said voting patterns since 1981 have shown that the electorate is not “controlled by anybody. The electorate is perhaps much more mature than we make them out to be, and should not be underestimated.”

He said he felt sure that in time to come when the matter goes to court that Maharaj would “elucidate on the reasons he took” but we have to respect him for the position he took. In this society we must never disrespect anyone for taking a strong position,” Rambachan said.

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