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Raffique Shah


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All ah we dead

By Raffique Shah
April 29, 2016

I had planned not to address crime in my columns, to waste valuable newspaper space on an issue that, while it grows grimmer by the day, is seemingly intractable.

When last I tackled it, I admitted to have become inured to the barbarism into which the nation has descended. Decapitation, mutilation, suffocation and now on-the-spot cremation no longer shock me.

In fact, I suspect that most people are bored with crime to the extent that it's no longer front-page news, the only thing of significance being the body-count-box that's ticking along at one-point-five a day.

I have returned to the scene not because there aren't more important national issues, but because of a few recent developments that I found particularly unsettling.

One was the video-clip posted on the Internet last week that showed several young men wildly firing sub-machine guns and pistols as if they were in a war theatre, except that this was set in a housing estate, a theatre of the absurd, complete with wildly cheering female fans.

It turns out that this "event" took place last December, Old Year's Night to be specific, somewhere in Maloney, and the police knew nothing about it until the video surfaced.

Now, the police can claim, with justification, that because almost everyone across the country was engaged in an orgy of explosive merriment at that specific time, they could not distinguish gunfire from fireworks or "scratch bombs".

But those firearms and the seemingly inexhaustible supply of ammunition would have been at that location well before the firepower-display. In fact, the criminals may have exhibited a fraction of their armaments. And that Maloney gang is just one of a nation-wide network of gangsters that probably number in the thousands, all armed with automatic guns.

Over the past few years, the police have boasted about how many hundreds of firearms and ammunition they have seized. Yet, we can easily deduce that huge supplies remain in the hands of criminals, hence the nightly gunning-down of victim after victim, the perpetrators using a magazine or two per "kill", which suggest they have unlimited supplies of ammunition.

A trained soldier exercises disciplined firepower…every round counts.

A criminal with a gun and much ammo will be reckless…squeezing the trigger of an automatic weapon until the magazine is empty-dangerous.

Before I offer my diagnosis of where this society has reached in lawlessness, I tender exhibit number two-yet another video posted on the Internet, this one capturing a few schoolgirls in uniform roundly and loudly cussing a police officer who was also in uniform.

It seemed that the policeman attempted to quell a disturbance in a public place when the girls pounced on him like hyenas in the jungle, to use a description coined by Prime Minister Keith Rowley, for which he was roundly condemned.

The common threads in the two incidents referenced are they involved young people between ages 15 and 25, male and female, who showed utter contempt for the law and disregard for officers of the law, and both sets of miscreants enjoyed vocal and visual support from their peers and families.

In other words, there is a general breakdown of law and order across the country, with criminals engaging in what I would describe as an insurgency, which is loosely described as a rebellion against authority.

My colleague Martin Daly goes beyond that: it's a coup d'etat, he posits, in which the State has ceded large areas of the country, including the nation's prisons, to criminal elements.

When a police officer cannot arrest, handcuff and cart away teenage girls who commit several offences, either because he is afraid of them or of hypocritical public outrage, we reach!

When the security forces-Coast Guard, army, Air Guard and police-over several decades, fail to stem the free flow of arms and ammunition into the country (we don't manufacture guns and ammo here) to the extent that anyone who wants an illegal firearm can easily acquire it, we are perilously close to being a failed state.

And when murderers, bandits and sundry criminals find safe havens in homes and communities, when families and neighbourhoods celebrate their deadly firepower, morality has collapsed and common decency has dissipated in the fog of war.

What is more frightening, in such anarchy where might is right, it is law-abiding citizens who come under attack from both police and thief.

Because the police are afraid to tackle the criminals, they pounce on easy targets-minor traffic offenders, marijuana smokers, protesting workers, and so on.

Besides targets of their internecine wars that they must dispense with to survive, gunmen find "soft targets" in ordinary citizens whom they rob with impunity, and kill as a sideline.

The real horror is that things won't get worse before they get better: they will degenerate from worse to worst, by which time "all ah we dead"!

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