September this year makes it five years since Ria Sookdeo went missing in 2016. To date she has not been found.
On September 16 2016, Sookdeo, 34, dropped her two children at their school in Picton Presbyterian School and was then abducted. The school is located a short distance away from where she lived at Wellington Road, Debe.
It was where she also operated a hairdressing salon. Her screams were heard by many as she was taken away by an unmasked man. Sookdeo was dragged out of her red Nissan X-Trail leaving behind her handbag and cellphone.
An all-points bulletin was immediately issued and roadblocks set up in several areas, but she was not found.
Police called in the National Operations Centre (NOC) Air Division helicopter to assist in the search.
However, up to today, Sookdeo’s relatives and friends have no answers on why she was taken. Guardian Media visited Sookdeo’s father, Frankie Rajkumar, a tradesman, who still has hope that his daughter is still alive and believes that one day he will reunite with her.
“Every day that you wake up in the morning, you have to go through this, every day of our lives. It’s not easy. You know sometimes people will tell you they know how you feel but no one really cannot know how you feel unless someone go through what I am going through right now…but it is very difficult for us”, Rajkumar said.
In 2018, Rajkumar called on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to revisit the case and this prompted the top cop to visit the family, where he promised to assist with the investigation. However, Rajkumar said these days things have gone cold.
“People used to visit us, offering us a few words and so on but after a while that’s when no one shows interest and not even a phone call from anyone, it is very hard and difficult”, he said.
After her abduction, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s (TTPS’) Criminal Intelligence Unit released a sketch of a man whom they believe may have information on what happened to Sookdeo. The sketch was developed by a police artist based on a description by witnesses.
Rajkumar, now 68, said it’s five years and he is losing faith in law enforcement.
“I believe law enforcement works for people, who are up there, who are wealthy, famous and things like that it works for them”, he said.
“For example, some time ago when they kidnapped the owner of Puff and Stuff bakery, in a quick time they found him and when Natalie Pollanias was kidnapped at C3 in no time they got her back because these are people who are in a different bracket in society and the poorer class of people in this country they don’t care.”
Since Sookdeo’s kidnapping, there are rumours that she was seen in Venezuela and Europe.
Rajkumar said that he takes these reports very lightly until someone can show his family concrete evidence that his daughter is still alive and being held against her will.
“All you are hearing are rumours, and rumours are rumours because I cannot go to the police that I heard somebody said something—we must have proper evidence—and in the very early part I was told that the media in Venezuela saw her there but if the media saw her there why did they not take photos of her? I don’t know if this was done to distract us or to distract the police but everything you hear are just rumours you are not getting anything concrete”, he said.
Rajkumar noted that people will make up a story on anything. No ransom was demanded Sookdeo. “To tell you the honest truth, I believe in my heart and I believe in a living God and I believe that she is still alive. She is somewhere and I have that hope that one day I am going to see her because I believe in that”, Rajkumar stated.
Sookdeo’s case is part of the Missing and Cold Case Division of the TTPS and her matter is still being investigated.