Radio Jaagriti comes on air

Clint Chan Tack Saturday, September 23 2006

AT LONG LAST: Maha Sabha general secretary Sat Maharaj (left) signs the concession documents to grant the group's long-awaited radio licence at the Te...
AT LONG LAST: Maha Sabha general secretary Sat Maharaj (left) signs the concession documents
to grant the group's long-awaited radio licence at TATT.

THE Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’s six-year wait for a radio broadcast licence ended at 3.30 pm yesterday when its secretary-general Sat Maharaj signed the relevant documents to grant it a radio licence at the Telecom Authority’s offices in San Juan. The new Maha Sabha radio station will be called Radio Jaagriti (Awakening), will be based in Tunapuna and be operational by November 1.

Speaking afterwards to journalists, Maharaj said the Maha Sabha was happy to receive the licence but sad that it took such a long time. The Maha Sabha had applied for its radio licence on September 1, 2000. Maharaj claimed the delay was tantamount to an act of discrimination against the Hindu community of Trinidad and Tobago.

Maharaj said it was unfortunate that this kind of treatment could be meted out to anyone in a democracy like TT. He hoped that no individual or group in TT would ever have to endure the Maha Sabha’s “torture” and that Government would never allow this situation to repeat itself.

Newsday exclusively reported on Thursday that the Maha Sabha would receive its radio licence yesterday. In that story, Maharaj said Attorney-General John Jeremie had informed the Maha Sabha by way of letter last Friday that Cabinet had directed Public Administration and Information Minister Dr Lenny Saith to instruct the Authority to issue a radio licence to them before the end of the week. Authority officials on Thursday said Saith was sent a note for the consideration of the Maha Sabha’s licence and the Authority was hoping for a reply from the Minister either Thursday afternoon or yesterday.

Contacted yesterday morning, Saith told Newsday that he received the concession documents for the Maha Sabha licence from the Authority on Thursday evening and signed the documents then. Saith said the documents were sent back to the Authority which would then inform the Maha Sabha when they could come in and sign the documents which would grant them their licence.

Maharaj said the Maha Sabha was informed yesterday by the Authority that the concession documents were ready for signing and the group would be going to the Authority’s San Juan offices at 3 pm to sign the documents.

Maharaj described the signing as a bittersweet moment because “it took too long to settle.” Maharaj claimed that Government attempted to frustrate the process every step of the way. “I am sad to see that TT could be sent to that state,” he said.

In June this year the Privy Council ordered the Attorney General to do all that was necessary to procure and ensure the issue forthwith to the appellant, Central Broadcasting Systems Limited (CBSL), of a FM radio broadcasting licence. Maharaj then wrote to Jeremie on September 11, giving him seven days to grant the organisation a radio broadcast licence, failing which the SDMS said it intended to sue the AG for contempt of court. In the letter to Jeremie, the SDMS through its attorneys Fenton Ramsahoye, QC and Anand Ramlogan, accused the Government of acting in bad faith and disrespecting a Privy Court order. It also accused Jeremie of demonstrating contempt for the judgement of the highest court of the land, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Maharaj said the Maha Sabha will now be accelerating its plans to launch its radio station on the 102.7 FM frequency.