Security forces have unearthed an underground bunker containing 80,000 gallons of diesel fuel within a scrap iron yard, and also found an Italian high- powered rifle and an ammunition belt-fed machine gun, says Housing and Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal. Leader of House Business Moonilal gave the information during yesterday’s House of Representatives debate on the extension of the state of emergency. Moonilal said up to yesterday, 1,356 people had been detained by security forces. He said 33 firearms had been seized and 1,000 rounds of ammunition have been found to date.
“The state of emergency is working…There are challenges but we go ahead,” he added. Moonilal said the guns found yesterday included an Italian made “high-powered” rifle as well as a machine gun that operated with ammunition fed from a belt. He added that the latter gun can spray bullets widely and kill many people. Moonilal also said that although scrap iron dealers had complained about the removal of their materials, security forces have uncovered an underground bunker containing 80,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
Moonilal said the fuel was being exported illegally. He said many scrap iron yards are illegal and had also been used to hide weapons and other illegal substances among the pieces of iron. Moonilal said while the buried fuel could have been there before May 24, 2010 – when the People’s Partnership won the election-the army could not have found the buried diesel without the powers of search they held under the current state of emergency. He said police had also foiled a car stealing gang in the last 48 hours. He said stolen cars were usually used in homicides.
He said the 1,356 people held so far were “1,356 reasons” for the state of emergency and the 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 33 guns seized were similar reasons for the current situation. “Thirty-three guns can kill 500 people, 1000 rounds of ammunition found has saved 1,000 lives-we shouldn’t take this lightly,” he added. Moonilal dismissed Opposition calls for the Government to present “big fish” in its net. Saying “little fish “often led to the “big fish,” Moonilal added that “the kingpins” did not wear Armani suits and often had average vehicles to keep off the radar. He said only one “big fish” had been caught and executed in previous years.
Moonilal said the Opposition’s concerns about political dissidents or artistes being targeted in the state of emergency were unfounded since criminals were the objective. He said trade unions were also continuing industrial action at Santa Flora and Petrotrin and were speaking out on their issues during the state of emergency. “There’s no clampdown on them and police aren’t going to seize them,” he added. Moonilal said even during the state of emergency people were still freely criticising the Government on radio and there was no suppression.
Saying the Goverment could not have waited further and wanted to deal with the crime and homicide situation early in his term, the minister said: “How many barrels of blood would have been spilled if we had waited? How many more should have died before Government acted?” He said people were feeling as though they were on vacation because of the peace the state of emergency had brought. Moonilal said ultimately, the public would decide whether the Government was right or wrong with the state of emergency. He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will go down in history and “the people will owe her a debt of gratitude” for being courageous enough to have instituted the state of emergency.”