The People’s Progressive Party has expressed “deep shock” at the sudden passing of former Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, who died on Saturday after collapsing with a suspected heart attack.
Gajraj served as Home Affairs Minister under the PPP from 1999 – 2005. He was later appointed High Commissioner to India and served in that post until the Government changed in 2015.
His appointment as High Commissioner by then President, Bharrat Jagdeo, came after he was removed from the cabinet position of Home Affairs Minister. That removal came as the Jagdeo government came under widespread international pressure over Gajraj’s alleged role and knowledge of a Phantom Death Squad, that is believed to have been responsible for the killing of more than four hundred Guyanese men.
It is believed that the death squad was formed with the blessings of Gajraj, as a response to a crime spree that had gripped the country at the time.
The squad was reportedly formed to go after criminals, but many of its members allegedly also became involved in contract killings and hire for murder cases.
In its statement remembering Ronald Gajraj, the People’s Progressive Party said he “will best be remembered for the pivotal role he played as Home Affairs Minister in the fight against crime at a very challenging time of this nation’s history”.
The party said he was also a very loyal and dedicated supporter of the party.
Three years ago, after returning from India, Gajraj filed a lawsuit against the Guyana Chronicle and his party colleague, Gail Teixeira after the Chronicle reported on US Embassy documents that revealed several statements that Teixeira had made against him when she met with US Embassy officials several years ago.
In the US cables between the local embassy and the State Department in Washington, the US Official in charge of the Embassy at the time wrote about meetings he held with Teixeira and statements she made about Gajraj in relation to several alleged activities that are believed to have taken place at the time.
She is reported to have provided the US official with various reports on several issues related to Gajraj who served as Home Affairs Minister just before she landed the job.