Videsh Sieu Sankar stands next to the tombstones of his aunt and grandparents at the Monkey Town Garden of Rest at Monkey Town Village yesterday.

The Monkey Town Public Cemetery Garden of Rest was this week damaged and turned into “a garden of unrest and disrespect” as about 20 graves were indiscriminately dug up and the dead disturbed.

Several members of three affected families found their way on the cemetery grounds on Thursday to speak with the Guardian Media crew who was on hand to see the ongoing excavation works which began on Tuesday and are ongoing.

Family members said they are upset about the alleged improper action taken by the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation.

The residents claimed that part of the earth on the eastern side started to cave in and a contractor was allegedly hired by the regional corporation which is chaired by Dr Allen Sammy to put down fence posts for a retaining wall. However, they said the contractor moved in and started work on the wrong part of the cemetery digging up graves, destroying memorial tombstones and enclosures of their loved ones causing stress and heartache.

The residents claimed they were told that the contractor said he did not see the tombstones and added that he cannot stop the work that he has already started.

One resident, who wished not to be identified said, “How could he not have seen it even when he moved in all his equipment? The equipment rolled over some of the tombstones and destroyed it. Most of the graves located on the right side of the cemetery were also unearthed. This is sad and a nightmare to us.”

A popular family in the area, the Dowlat family, who has about 11 burial plots there said although the graves of their loved ones weren’t dug up it still is shocking to them.

“This cemetery has always been close to my heart and ever so often I would make my way to South to visit my father’s grave. I wish to be buried there one day too. I can’t believe that the dead would have been disrespected like that.”

Resident Videsh Siewsankar said five graves belonging to his relatives were destroyed.

“They want to tell us that no graves were on this side but you can clearly see graves dug up and pieces of tombs dug up and turned upside down and dislocated from the respective graves. It is extremely disgusting that no one consulted the cemetery keeper. The cemetery keeper said that had he been consulted he would have let the PDRC and contractors know that this side of the cemetery is well populated.”

He added, “No other families have been contacted except us. They neglected to inform other people which is grossly disrespectful because when you celebrate their life and put them to rest here and then have them strewn indiscriminately and no attempts were made to reclaim the remains for us to have reburials or to properly exhume the bodies of our loved ones shows that the corporation has no respect for the families.”

Corporation chairman Dr Allen Sammy in response to questions from Guardian Media said, “ As soon as it was drawn to our attention on Tuesday afternoon we requested that the matter be addressed immediately by our technical team. They went on Wednesday and again Thursday morning to investigate the matter. The CEO also visited given the seriousness of the complaint. I will be seeking an update on the matter.”