Hate crime against Hindus: Statement on the robbery and death of Dr. Ravi Maharaj

Hindu Holy Man makes purchases at produce market, Debe, Trinidad and Tobago. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ten years ago, millionaire businessman and medical doctor, Ravi Maharaj, 63, was found dead at his San Fernando home in Trinidad and Tobago, on 11 January 2006.

In a press statement released yesterday, Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA and First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University, passed the following statement concerning the murder trial of Dr Ravi Maharaj and hate crimes against Hindus.

It was recently reported in a daily newspaper (Newsday June 3, 2016) that two men (Roger Greene and Brian Worrel) allegedly robbed and murdered Dr Ravi Maharaj in Trinidad and Tobago.

Greene was motivated by the belief that Maharaj was a Hindu worshipper and “God don’t like that.” Greene ‘chooked’ the Hindu with an ice pick and destroyed his murtis [sacred statues].

Jones (State attorney) asked Worrel what he had asked Greene, and he (Worrel) replied, “I said, like the job you went on, the man dead? Like you kill the man.” Worrel told the judge and jury from the witness box, that Greene told him the man (Dr. Maharaj) was an idol worshipper, a Hare Krishna worshipper and that he didn’t serve God.

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“Roger said the man (Dr. Maharaj) was a Hare Krishna worshipper and he mashed down statues and idols. God does not like those things. Roger took out TT$500. and said he will bless me with another TT$500. He said the man does worship idols and the man don’t want to show him where the safe was. He then told me, ‘I take an ice pick and chook up he feet’,” Worrel said from the witness box.

See details of the testimony hereAccused said victim was an idol worshipper

When the victim is a member of the peaceful and tolerant Hindu community, and when the gruesome act is fuelled with hate speech, and when the accused relishes the fact that the victim is an “idol worshipper,” and when the accused uses God as a motivation for such action, there must not be only a cause for concern, but a call for action.

In many countries there are laws against such hate crimes. In some countries such crimes are viewed so seriously that they are punishable by death.

Hate crimes have been committed on the Temple-in-the-sea in Waterloo, as well as on murtis [sacred statues] and jhandis[sacred flags] in many parts of the country.

Where will this trend take us? Today, we live in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious society in Trinidad and Tobago. People of different faiths live in one neighbourhood.

We condemn this barbaric act and hate speech against Dr. Ravi Maharaj. May his soul rest in peace.

Let us use his passing to educate our spiritual leaders and their congregations about the brotherhood of man, love for God and his creation, and peace on earth through respect, tolerance and coexistence.

Just as how we are now displaying that we have a passion for changing the laws relating to the legal age of marriage, we should engender the same passion for creating laws against hate speech and hate crimes.

-Pandit Ramadheen Ramsamooj, Ph.D.

Founder/Director of the Saraswati Mandiram in the USA

First Hindu Chaplain at Boston University

Adjunct Professor in the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth