July 16th, 2020, marked the 47th Anniversary of the killing of Jagan Ramesar and Bhola Nauth Parmanand. They were killed while trying to defend the votes at the No. 64 Village Polling Station. All they were asking was that the votes be counted at the place of poll before removing the ballot boxes.
That event in which those two young men were killed, Jagan Ramesar was only seventeen, was one of the most important in returning democratic elections to Guyana.
Counting the votes at the place of poll is, in the Guyanese context, vital for free and fair elections. This is now being demonstrated once again as the struggle to protect the people’s votes cast during March 2, 2020 continues.
The election riggers may have gotten away with fraud had we not won the right to have the votes counted at the place of poll. That we were able to stop them was due to mass struggle and the ultimate sacrifice of the Ballot Box Martyrs forty-seven years ago.
In commemorating those two heroes we must not forget one of the local leaders on that day who passed away on Christmas Day 2019, Cde. Rishi Ram Motie. He was very young at the time just twenty-two, but he led that struggle that day and stood like a giant defending democracy. He suffered injuries attempting to protect the people votes. He together with his wife Bijulee stood tall on that day.
Their efforts then and over the years helped greatly to give the people of this country the opportunity to live in harmony in a democratic nation.
We still have a way to go but we have come a long way. For that, we must remember Jagan Ramesar, Bhola Nauth Parmanand and Rishi Ram Moti. Their deeds that day have immortalized them.
Let us hold high the Banner of Peace, Freedom as we continue on the path blazed by so many who came before us including the Ballot Box Martyrs.