IN just under six hours, a family’s wedding joy was turned into misery and sorrow over the weekend as the bride’s uncle was murdered days before the highly-anticipated celebration.
Gasparillo businessman Anand Maharaj, 60, was found dead on Saturday at a customer’s home wrapped in plastic and duct tape, shoved under a couch.
The customer, who rented a car from Maharaj, is now in police custody and is the main suspect in their investigations.
Maharaj was the owner of Triple-A Auto Services Ltd at Jeffers Lane, Charles Street, Gasparillo, where he also lived.
The business specialises in auto rentals, mechanical repairs, air condition repairs, diagnostic scanning, among other things.
Police said he left home around 1 pm to deliver the car – a sliver Nissan Note – to the customer.
He never returned home.
After all calls to his cellphone went unanswered, police went to the suspect’s apartment and interviewed him. He was then arrested.
Newsday understands the landlady initially denied police entry to the compound and began cursing and quarreling with them.
Police then returned to the compound later where they found Maharaj’s body.
On Sunday morning, Maharaj’s brother Taran Maharaj told members of the media the suspect had rented cars from the business before.
He said his sister-in-law got some text messages from her husband just before 7 pm, about buying dinner and “going to purchase some US dollars.
“She said she called another worker and he wasn’t getting through with him either…We came down here and the police came. I must say the police was (sic) really efficient. And one of the workers who had known my brother, went with the police to show him where he went to take the car…He know the guy.”
The man had the keys to the rented vehicle, which was tracked down using GPS.
Taran said his family is not coping well and hailed his brother as a hardworking man.
His last conversation with the father of three was on Saturday morning when he came to do an oil change for his vehicle.
He said it was mostly “fun ole talk.
“He is a very hard worker. He has tried everything from lawn maintenance to car repairs to car rentals. He has tried everything
He did well, his children are well educated, scholarship winners.”
He said he sent him a WhatsApp message just before 6 pm, about one of the managers at their previous workplace who had died.
“The message was read because I saw the blue ticks. But apparently, someone else read the message, not him.”
“It’s hard. That wedding was supposed to be Easter Sunday last year, and then the first lockdown come…They finally put it for Sunday which is coming and now, we have another lockdown again…And then worst of all now, the uncle of the child who is getting married is murdered.”
He said his brother was a police officer for three years, then worked at Fertrin Ammonia Plant in Point Lisas as a plant manager but was retrenched.
He then started his own business.
Taran said he too had his “fair share” of dealing with criminals as two years ago, he shot and killed one of four bandits who invaded his home.
Since then, he said, his family set up camera systems at their homes, set up burglar proofing and put GPS in all vehicles.
“It’s a very sensitive investigation so we didn’t get much information from the police. No motive so far.”
He said he doesn’t believe his brother was shot as neighbours of the suspect said they heard no gunshots.
Several people posted tributes to Maharaj on social media including Gasparillo Chamber of Commerce President Anil Ramjit.
He said it was disheartening.
“Like most business owners, he struggled to build a business that placed food on the table, created employment and a service to the community and the wider country. Many don’t understand the sleepless nights and 24-hour workdays it takes to keep your business afloat. After working hard for many years, he was robbed of enjoying his success and sweat of his brow.
“He served as the vice president of the Gasparillo Business Association, the predecessor to the Gasparillo Chamber of Commerce.”
When Newsday visited the home of the suspect – an apartment – the landlady was being interviewed by police.
Residents were fearful to speak to the media about the incident but said the suspect has two children.
Newsday understands the suspect worked for a US-based company but owing to the covid19 pandemic, operations had halted and he was getting a stipend.
When trying to find the apartment complex, drivers told Newsday they just heard the news which was shocking as it is a “quiet community.”
Around 2 am on Sunday, a wrecker took the rented vehicle from the compound.
An autopsy will be done on Maharaj’s body at the Forensic Science Centre, St James sometime this week.
Investigations are continuing.