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'There is no bitterness'

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, April 17, 2014

HE was the Indian high commissioner in 1989 when relations between India and Fiji became sour and he was expelled because of India's view on the 1987 coup.

Thettalil Sreenivasan is now back after 25 years and says he has no regrets coming back to Fiji and even happier that what was once proposed in 1970 is actually happening — a common roll for all Fijians.

"It was a technical reason. The Government of India had declined to recognise the military government of Fiji, Rabuka's government," he said.

"When you don't recognise a government, it's very hard to stay on but there was goodwill, I was allowed to stay on.

"Diplomacy was there and both nations had the desire for Fiji to return to normalcy."

Mr Sreenivasan said India then was disappointed with the treatment of Fijians of Indian descent.

When asked if he would like to meet Sitiveni Rabuka again, Mr Sreenivasan said he wouldn't mind.

"I have nothing against him, in fact I feel he is the one that brought the changes, more like set the wheels of change into motion," he said.

"There is no bitterness between us. There is no unfriendliness.

"In 1987, when the coup had happened, the atmosphere was tense. The great thing about Fiji was that everything was so peaceful.

"Although there were differences, there was no issue of violence. This situation is something that is unique about Fiji. In any other country, it would have been different."

Mr Sreenivasan has been keeping himself informed about the progress in Fiji.

"There will be a common roll. We have been talking about this since 1970.

"After independence, there was a dilemma, if there should be a common roll or a racial roll," he said.

"And the two communities came to a social compact. They agreed on a common formula that worked until 1987."

Mr Sreenivasan added with the new system adopted by Fiji, the nation had come to a realisation that it had to take a united stand.

His best wishes are with Fiji as the country heads towards democracy in September.