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Bim's Basement Party

July 21, 2002
By Raffique Shah

"Man dey, what you say? It don't pay to live your life on de run Run quick from the policeman The other way the preacherman with the gown..."
(Andre Tanker, title track from the movie "Bim", 1972)

I COULDN'T help but hum this gem-of-a-song by Andre Tanker (for those who know this great artiste only from this year's mega-hit "Bin Lion", or "Sayamanda", you 'ent really know this genius) as I looked on as startling events unfolded at Sadiq Baksh's residence last Wednesday. First reports spoke of five kilogrammes of cocaine being discovered in Sadiq's water tank. Then came even more dramatic news that "missiles" (some radio announcers insisted the items were "mess-iles"!) were also found in the tank, and that the police and army had evacuated the neighbourhood. What the hell was going on? I, and I guess many others, wondered. Were we about to descend into the bomb-a-day zone that lies everywhere between Tel Aviv and Ramallah?

Then the pieces started falling together, and before nightfall it was clear that the stench that permeated, nay, polluted, our normally calm, easy-going country, emanated from the kennel of the UNC. Really, let's try and put together this "anancy story", as told by the party's leadership. Ganga Singh (of 'Sadiq's Baksh house' fame....Boy, you attended Pres Chaguanas?) claimed that he was tipped off by a "PNM informant" about a PNM/police plot to plant five kilogrammes of cocaine and two missiles in Sadiq's water tank, presumably to "frame" Sadiq. I feel certain that I heard Singh say at some point that he received the "tip off" on Sunday night. Or maybe what he said was that the cocaine and missiles were placed there on Sunday night.

Later, he claimed it was on Tuesday that he received the call from the PNM informant. Note how the unnamed informant was able to give Singh the exact details, down to the gramme. So what did Singh do? He journeyed down to San Fernando to apprise his leader, Panday. Both of them, surely, must have been aware that Sadiq was out of the country. Having informed Panday of this grave situation, Panday is reported to have suggested that he telephone Sadiq's children to alert them to the threat.

One needs to ask why the two men did not immediately drive down to the house to do the needful, since they were both nearby in San Fernando. Hell, Sadiq is their friend and political colleague, so if there was a threat as serious as what the informant told Singh, then one would think they'd personally intervene to determine its authenticity. No such luck for the young Bakshs: uncle Ganga used modern technology, the cellular phone, to relay the message. Baksh's 28 year-old son, who is heavily involved with the UNC and must know of Panday's premonition of several UNC MPs being arrested and "framed" by the PNM and the police, obviously gave little credence to the information he received.

Because it was not until Wednesday morning that he "looked through the bedroom window and saw the cover from one tank missing". Really, if Ganga's informant was reliable, then one would think a search of the tank(s) would be done as soon as young Baksh received the information. But what's a little cocaine and a few missiles: that could wait until tomorrow! So when he eventually spots the open tank, he checks, finds a suspicious bag floating. Who does he alert? Not Panday, not Ganga, not even gadfly Robin Montano. He summons "family friend" Tony Deyal. Now, I have known Tony all my life, and the one thing I know about him is he is no narcotics or ballistics expert. Still, Deyal arrives at the scene, and proceeds to call ACP Frank Diaz all the way in Port of Spain.

Eventually, officers of the CID and OCNU units arrive, fish out the cocaine, and then see some other objects at the bottom of the tank. The army is called in and two training mortar rounds are retrieved. Even as the police and army try to figure out what the hell was happening at Palmiste, Panday and Ganga already had a media conference going at the Rienzi complex. It would be interesting to learn at what time they invited the media. At the conference, Singh relates a story that would make Paul Keens-Douglas green with envy. In between green verbs and pink adjectives, Singh shines like a 15th Century piece of armour.

Then Panday joins the fray, hyped to the max, and proceeds to accuse the police and the PNM of plotting to frame UNC MPs, to have Sadiq dubbed a terrorist (in which case he'd have to be handed over to the US Special Forces, I presume), and to use this as a means of summoning Parliament. Both Singh and Panday spoke of a warrant to search Sadiq's premises. Police Commissioner Hilton Guy denied there was any such warrant. To crown off the day's drama, Panday had already fixed a public meeting for Felicity, one of the strongest UNC bases in the country. That night, he addressed less than 500 people, many of them coming from outside the district.

Really, do Panday and Ganga believe they have taken us all for a ride? That we are fools to fall for cheap tricks and naked politicking? Let's be realistic. That there are policemen who "frame" people is a fact that Guy or Diaz will not deny. But they will also tell you that because policemen who are so inclined are usually very corrupt and greedy, there is no way they'd waste 4.9 kilogrammes of cocaine to "frame" Sadiq-not when they could do it with one gramme, and sell the rest for more than $1 million! Besides, whoever came up with the bright idea of using this ploy to stir up flagging UNC support did not know their munitions. The duds they planted in the tank were indeed "mess-iles", not missiles.

The whole thing stinks. I don't think even UNC diehards are so stupid to believe saboteurs would try to "frame" Sadiq when he was out of the country. And why would they not replace the water tank's cover so as not to alert anyone? Why did Panday and Ganga not personally attend to this grave assault on a top ranking UNC member, but instead chose to deal with it by telephone and a media conference? No, Panday, like Tanker's Bim, finds himself running from both "de policeman and de preacherman". Bin Lion's party seems to have gone into the basement, if you ask me....or "the Tank".

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