Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part III

The Events of November 18, 1973

Paragraph 95. - An Examination in Detail [Part 5] - The Evidence of H.M. Bhola

95. Mr. H.M. Bhola, a businessman in Grenville, also gave evidence about the incident on Sunday, November 18. His testimony substantially corroborated that given by Simon Daniel concerning the conduct of the police and the police aides on that day.

He was aware that a general strike was scheduled for November 19 and a meeting of businessmen had been arranged for November 18 at the DeLuxe Cinema for the purpose of hearing from members of the New Jewel Movement the purpose of the "shut down." Bhola was himself one of the organisers and invited Maurice Bishop to attend.

The meeting was arranged for 3:00 -.m. (15:00) on Sunday, November 18, 1973. It was not a public meeting: it was confined to businessmen and permission to hold the meeting at the DeLuxe Cinema was given by its owner L.L. Ramdhanny.

Shortly after Bhola arrived at the cinema a van came with about 20 policemen and police aides under the command of Inspector Andrews who deployed the men to occupy the top and bottom gates of the cinema. Bhola saw when Maurice Bishop arrived outside the cinema. He was with Selwyn Strachan in a motor car. Four others also arrived - Austin, Whiteman, Daniel and Radix.

Police Constable Andrews told the police party to stop Bishop from entering the cinema at about 3 p.m. (15:00). The Six men were stopped.

A few minutes after Bishop reversed his car, while Bhola went in search of Ramdhanny, "to check and see what was going on they are stopping the people from coming in." Bhola left for his home.

When he arrived he found Austin walking towards his gate and Whiteman sitting in the back of Bishop's car. Bishop was still in his car. Bhola spoke to him. [Maurice] Bishop asked Bhola to check with Ramdhanny "to find out why we should not have the meeting at the cinema."

Bhola then telephoned Ramdhanny who advised him to record the names of the men and the police men so that he might investigate the matter.

Bhola then telephoned his own brother to arrange another venue for the meeting. While doing so he heard a loud noise outside. He left the telephone and looked through the verandah on to the road. He saw Whiteman in the car and Daniel leaning against the building apparently tired being threatened by George Thomas alias "Shine." There were other police aides on the road.

Bhola returned to the telephone. He heard a louder noise. Again he left the telephone and went on his back step.

He saw Asst. Supt. Belmar stop his car near to Bishop and the other members of the New Jewel Movement. A few of the police aides who had iron pipes and batons spoke to Belmar. Some of the police aides outside his house had rifles, pieces of half inch pipe, long sticks and batons.

Belmar came out of his car. He slammed Bhola's gate shut and told Radix, Austin and Daniel, who had by then entered his premises, not [sic] to come out. They ran upstairs into Bhola's house.

Bhola did not see Bishop and Whiteman but he saw Strachan running with blood streaming from his head. He heard Belmar say to the police aides "get them boys." About 20 or 30 police aides were beating Strachan with batons and pieces of iron pipe.

From Bhola's house Hudson Austin called out to Police Constable Thompson. He said, "Constable, have you seen what these men are doing this man, and you are doing nothing about it." He heard gun fire outside.

In the meantime, Radix, Daniel and Austin were using the telephone. They were constantly on the phone for about an hour and a half; but were lying flat on the floor with the telephone. Bhola understood from Radix that he was speaking to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nugent David, who, he said, was offering assistance; but none came. There was gun fire all around his house.

Later, Asst. Supt. Belmar, speaking through a loud speaker said "Bhola, you have three men in there, put them out or otherwise I will blast the building."

Bhola, in response to promptings by his wife and children went outside to speak to Belmar. He led Belmar upstairs and showed him that the three men were using the telephone. Belmar told them to accompany him. Bhola asked Belmar not to beat them. Radix gave Bhola his watch, some money and jewels and, with the others, accompanied Belmar. Bhola followed them down the stairs.

On reaching downstairs Belmar told the police aides "don't touch these boys."

According to Bhola it was at this stage that the two cars were searched by the police aides and some Jewel newspapers were found. He thought it was Belmar who ordered the search although he did not actually hear him do so.

At that time the 3 men who were in his house had been arrested already and he did not then know where the other 3 were.

In his estimation there were altogether about 150 policemen and police aides on the road outside. The time was then about 5:30 p.m.

Belmar and 3 other policemen escorted Radix, Daniel and Austin while Bhola and his family remained at home. He had been threatened by the police aides and for fear of being beaten he did not again venture outside that day.

He also made a list of some of the policemen and police aides who were on the road that afternoon. One of the police aides, Kenrick Mitchell, who, according to Bhola, behaved in a hostile manner on November 18, 1973, has since been recruited into the Police Force and stationed at the Grenville Police Station.

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