PORT OF SPAIN –– A Barrackpore taxi driver who was savagely beaten by two schoolboys on Tuesday is calling on parents to do a better job at raising their children.
Nursing a painful gash on the head, a black eye and cuts to his neck and nose, Suresh Seujattan yesterday told the T&T Guardian that school violence was out of control. He called on the police and the Ministry of Education to act now to stem violence among the youths in the education system.
However, he said his real message was to parents, saying they should check their children’s school bags everyday as he claimed the boys had weapons during their attack.
According to a police report, around 2:20 p.m. Seujattan, 50, who operates his Nissan Almera sedan along the Princes Town to Barrackpore route, was parked near the Barrackpore East Secondary School, which is approximately 50 metres from the Barrackpore Police Station.
School had just finished and the boys, believed to be 14 to 15 years, asked him whether he was going to Princes Town. Seujattan said he turned the boys away because they approached him in a “rough way”, making him wary of allowing them to enter his car. Moments later, however, a group of schoolgirls asked to be taken to Princes Town and he agreed. On seeing this, the schoolboys became enraged and attacked Seujattan.
“When I started my car, they ran to the door and blocked me. He said ‘Drive, what is that?’ I came out the car and he scrambled me, you can see the marks where he scraped me on my nose. When I tried the push him off, his partner attacked me from the back and started pounding me on my face and side,” Seujattan recalled.
“I didn’t see what object they used, but it was something they had in their hands. Because I blanked them, they came back to the car to confront me. The school children in the car came out and left the car open.”
While the commotion going on, police ran out and subdued the boys. They were taken back to the station.
Relatives took Seujattan to the Princes Town District Health Facility where he was treated and discharged. He said his head, eyes and left ear were in pain. Blood was still present on the ground where the assault took place yesterday and Seujattan even showed his bloodied jersey and sneakers from the attack.
For years, Seujattan said he worked as a truck driver, but with a slowdown in the construction sector there were no jobs so he recently bought the car and started his taxi work just over a week ago. Although he was traumatised, he said he has no choice but to return to the road. He admitted, however, that he was shocked to know that such a violent act was committed by children.
“It is very terrible and it is not safe to walk around with the kind of attitude they have,” he said.
“When they sit in your car they’re getting on bad too and you can’t tell them anything. If you tell them anything, they would want to lash you . . . .
“This is getting out of hand and it is time that the authorities come and do something about it. I have my two grandchildren growing up, what are they going to face in school?”
President of the Princes Town to Barrackpore Taxi Drivers’ Association, Chandradath Rampersad, said police needed to do foot patrols, especially when school was finished. He said the officers are usually seen patrolling in vehicles, but this was not enough.
He said the association was calling on the Ministry of Education to deal with this issue, as the school did not have enough security.
Officers at the Barrackpore Police Station confirmed the incident yesterday, but were unable to say whether the boys had been charged yet as the investigating officer was not present.
Contacted yesterday, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he was unaware of the incident. He surmised that this may have been so because it happened outside the school compound, so no report was submitted to him.
However, he said although the police got involved he would be investigating the incident tomorrow as it involved school children in uniform.