PORT-OF-SPAIN: Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh, the environmentalist who is on a hunger strike in hopes of persuading the government to rethink its position on the construction of a multi-billion dollar highway, was removed from the middle of a road on Monday by police officers near the office of Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The frail 53-year-old University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer did not resist the action of the authorities. As of press time, he has been on a hunger strike for 15 days.
Earlier on Monday, police closed the roads surrounding the Office of the Prime Minister for at least four hours and barricaded the building.
One senior police officer said the action was taken in order to protect Persad-Bissessar, but did not say whether the action had followed a call by Kublalsingh last Sunday for ordinary citizens to come to Port-of-Spain and participate in a peaceful protest.
“You have a responsibility Trinidad & Tobago to help your people. Please do. That is why I am asking for you to come (Monday), we will be sitting outside the Prime Minister’s office. Whatever she says is insignificant, the important thing is that you stand up,” Kublalsingh said in a video message.
Last Friday, government supporters staged a demonstration in support of the San Fernando-to-Point Fortin Highway. Persad-Bissessar says her administration had no plans of stopping the project because of the actions of the environmentalist.
“In any event, the Highway Reroute Movement has filed a case raising the very issues and these are now therefore the subject of judicial consideration by the High Court,” the four-party coalition government said in a statement. “The matter is therefore now sub judice.”
Kublalsingh’s brother, Hayden, criticized the government for seeking to prevent the protest on Monday.
“The Prime Minister can’t hide behind public relations,” he said. “She speaks about humanity and she refuses to allow a tent and some form of protection for a man who is in a very delicate manner.”
Kublalsingh, who was released from a private hospital last weekend, insisted that he would continue his hunger strike.