Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat has defended the decision to evict Pas­tor Es­ther Cruick­shank and the Soul Re­vival King­dom Min­istries, which she leads in Carlsen Field.

On Tuesday, the pastor said she would not be leaving the premises and that she and her 22 parish­ioners would not be tak­ing the is­sue light­ly.

Pastor Cruickshank also explained that the church began occupying the land in 2017 following a meeting with officials from the offices of State Lands.

She also said, that a ver­bal agree­ment was reached and no writ­ten doc­u­ments by way of leas­es or le­gal pa­per­work were giv­en to the church to oc­cu­py the land that once housed Tan­teak Lim­it­ed.

But yesterday Minister Rambharat took to his social media page to give the State’s side of the story.

He said, “I can say that after receiving complaints of squatting on this site, I first intervened in December 2018.”

The minister said as the squatting continued and steps were being taken by those occupying the land to open a car wash on the site and also expand a scrap metal recycling operation (reported by him to the EMA in 2018 and 2019) he again intervened.

“I personally visited the site last week, photographed the activities and gave instructions to the Commissioner of State Lands to protect the State’s valuable asset,” said Minister Rambharat.

He added, “I would defend my actions when called upon to do so.”

The church moved into Carsen Field in 2012 and was reportedly formed some ten years ago.

Pastor Cru­cik­shank said she, along with parish­ioners and res­i­dents, have planned a demon­stra­tion for lat­er this month to protest the eviction.