Location: Devonshire Castle, Essequibo Coast
Classification: Commemorative Monument
Period/ Year Built: 1985
Historical Background / Description:
The Devonshire Castle Monument is located in the community of Devonshire Castle, some 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the town of Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast. It was built in memory of the East Indian indentured servants: Kaulica, Beccaroo, Maxidally, Baldeo and Auckloo, who were killed in the Devonshire Castle Strike of 1872. The monument was unveiled on September 29, 1985, on the 113th anniversary of the strike by Mr. William Badar. It was rehabilitated on September 29, 2000, by the National Trust of Guyana.
The Devonshire Castle Strike of 1872 was the first major protest in which Indentured servants protested against the unfair systems that were being used to exploit them. The estate workers were dissatisfied with the working conditions on the sugar plantation and complained bitterly about the unfair manner the indentured system was managed. Their complaints included poor wages, long hours of work, administrative abuse; the manner in which tasks were assigned to them and the numerous deductions from their pay.
On September 29, 1872, they staged the strike action which was initially ignored by the estate management, but the servants persisted and an inquiry was called by the magistracy in nearby Plantation Danielstown. The laborers refused to appear at the hearing, since they believed that their concerns would not be genuinely addressed. Instead, they armed themselves with hackia sticks and swarmed the overseer’s compound in an angry, threatening manner and the police were invited to “quell” the disturbance.
Accompanied by the Stipendiary Magistrate, 24 armed police officers arrived on the scene and the Riot Act was read and the servants were asked to disperse. The workers remained adamant which led the police to moved closer towards them in hope that they would retreat. The workers continued with their protest and a gunshot was accidently fired which led the police to believe that an order was given to open fire. This led to the deaths of Kaulica, Beccaroo, Maxidally, Baldeo and Auckloo and the wounding of many more.