National Farmers Union has questioned the mandate of the Girmit Council and the chief executive of the Sugar Cane Growers Council to make representation to the Great Council of Chiefs on behalf of the Indian community.
“The reported nature of their representation tantamounts to debasing the constitutional and citizenship rights of the Indian community in Fiji,” said NFU general secretary Mahendra Chaudhry.
The two organisations are reported to have sought the approval of the GCC chairperson to thank the chiefs for allowing the Indian community to stay here for the past 124 years.
The 1997 Constitution confers equal citizenship rights on all communities living in Fiji.
It is a historical fact that Indians were brought here as indentured labourers by the British Colonial government to work on plantations. After the abolition of the Indenture System they were guaranteed full citizenship rights by the then government. These rights were confirmed in the 1970 Independence Constitution, and more recently the 1997 Constitution.
“So what is the purpose of this presentation to the GCC?” questioned Mr. Chaudhry.
The Girmit Council is a defunct institution which has failed miserably to discharge its obligations to promote the cultural heritage of the Indian community.
It represents no one except a bunch of business people with vested interests.
It does not speak for the Indian community in Fiji, nor does the Sugar cane Growers Council. As such they have no mandate to make representation to anyone on behalf of the community.
“If the purpose is indeed reconciliation, then the point must be made that it is the Indian community that has been wronged. It is those who have inflicted this wrong who must apologise for what they have done if true reconciliation is to be achieved,” Mr Chaudhry said.