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Violence: I’m Safe Under Bainimarama’s Leadership: 2000 Coup Victim

Violence: I’m Safe Under Bainimarama’s Leadership: 2000 Coup Victim
Muni Lata Kumar with a picture of her late husband, Corporal Raj Kumar. Photo: Jessica Savike
September 17
10:27 2017

Muni Lata Kumar, made a widow at the height of the 2000 coup,  says today she has never felt safer under the leadership of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Ms Kumar was married to late Corporal Raj Kumar who was beaten and shot by escapees while on duty in August 2000. The coup had triggered a spate of violence in parts of the country. The military eventually restored order.

“It is because of the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama that we have freedom. We can go to places and still feel safe. If we ever make a complaint, we know that he listens to our concerns,” she said. She said she supported and commended statements made by the PM and Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai on the sacrifices and key role that soldiers played during the 2000 coup.

Mr Bainimarama and Colonel Ratu Jone had responded to a statement made in Parliament last week by National Federation Party MP, Parmod Chand who said that the PM “…could not control his guns…” and that the PM should “…be blamed for the 2000 coup, not the people.”

She also emphasised on how the PM had provided assistance to Fijians regardless of their race or ethnicity.

“Ever since the Bainimarama government came in power no one has been able to stage a coup or anything like that and I feel much safer living in this country,” Ms Kumar said.

“For so many years after the coup nobody cared about us, the Police and army officers’ widows. It was only Mr Bainimarama that found a place for us to stay.

“He is the only person that helps all of us regardless of our race and culture. He thinks of us as one and what he is doing for this country is the right thing and I support him unconditionally.

“Everybody says we are one so let’s stay like that and help each other.”

Recalling the death of her husband,

Corporal Raj Kumar

It’s been 17 years since the death of Corporal Raj Kumar.

“The coup started in May 2000 and during that time my husband, Corporal Raj Kumar, was required to do 24 hours of duty and he would only get one day off in a week,” she said.

“He was working in the Nausori Police Station and it was in the month of August when he started his duty from midnight till 7am the next morning.

“One Monday night while he was on duty he received a call that there were escapees in Qiolevu, Sewani, and since he was on duty he went to check on it.

“Before he went some army officers had gone and the escape prisoners were looking for guns, so when they saw the army officers, the escape prisoners shot one of the army officers.

“The special constable that went with my husband was a newly married man so my husband told him you drive slowly down the roll and I will sit at the back so they won’t see me as it is dark, but it was unfortunate that the escapees opened the door on his side.

“The escapees asked him why they had come here so he told them that they had received a report that escapees were seen in the area. They asked him for his gun and he told them that he didn’t have one so they beat him up. He suffered a blunt force trauma to the forehead and they also shot him on the side, which caused him an instant death. The special constable had told me all this.”

On that fateful night she further said: “I was alone at home as both my kids were overseas, and I suddenly woken up. I came out of my room and just looked around because I felt something has happened to my husband, but then I told myself that it was an unnecessary worry because my husband will come home in the morning.

“Then I went back to bed but I couldn’t sleep. In the morning I heard in the news that something has happened in the Nausori Police Station, so I called the station but no one told me anything.

“Everyone one told me that he had gone out. Around 9am a lot of Police officers came to my home in Muanikoso and when I saw them I thought that my husband must have been injured and taken to the hospital and that was why he didn’t come with the officers.

“Then one of the officer’s wives told me that my husband was no more and I was so shocked that I fainted.

“This incident happened on Monday. The previous day my husband had talked to both my kids and they were joking on the phone like always and when I told my kids about what had happened they didn’t believe it.”

What happened during the coup?

She also recalled how people, during the 2000 coup, were robbed, houses burnt and girls and women being raped in their own homes.

“It was like there was no law in the country and in fact that is what happened because there was no Prime Minister to impose any laws,” she said.

“At that time we were told to not go out of our houses and even if something did happen to anyone, Police couldn’t do much.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  jessica.savike@fijisun.com.fj

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