Devonshire Castle killings

Dear Editor,
Today is the 150th Anniversary of the killing of 5 indentured Indian labourers and the wounding of seven others by the Police on order of the planter class in 1872.
These state-sanctioned killings for alleged labour violations were to continue with astounding regularity until 1948 at Enmore, when another five were murdered. In total, fifty indentureds were murdered.
It was the unstated policy of the state in Guyana throughout the nineteenth century, and up to the middle of the twentieth, that “what’s good for sugar is good for British Guiana (B.G.)”.
These killings had been preceded by a strike in July of 1869 at Plantation Leonora, when forty workers of the shovel gang disputed the wages for work done, and it was alleged that they assaulted a manager. The planter class response was swift, after the protest was supported by fellow workers: Police and troops were sent to Pln. Leonora. No shootings took place, but a Commission of Inquiry was established that made recommendations for better labour relations.
However, the Devonshire Castle protest was a watershed event, as it represented the first time that Indian immigrants had been shot and killed by the Police. It was obvious that the Royal Commission’s recommendations of 1870 were merely a palliative, and there were no lasting reforms of the system. From this point onwards, “strikes” would be deemed as “riots” at which the Riot Act could be read and the strikers shot dead.
But it was out of these protests against the planters who controlled the colonial state that we eventually got independence. Even more ironic is that it was one immigrant, Parag, who had been arrested for assaulting a Manager who had been charged that precipitated the challenge to the colonial order. He bravely cross-charged the Manager, and refused to show up in Court on Sept 30. His fellow immigrants massed outside the estate, where the Police were summoned by the Manager and the Riot Act was read, then the deadly shots rang out. Maxidally, Kaulika, Beccaroo, Baldeo and Auckloo were killed.
Maybe Parag, who survived, was an ancestor of Minister Sonia Parag?

Ravi Dev