An executive of the National Farmers Union (NFU) was detained at Labasa Police Station for almost 24 hours, after being arrested for allegedly defying the cancellation of a permit, to hold a meeting at Labasa Civic Centre.
Surendra Lal, a Fiji Labour Party Member of Parliament from September 2001 to 5th December 2006, was taken in by Labasa police and spent Saturday night (May 23) in police custody.
Sources say the interim regime cancelled a permit issued to NFU to hold the annual general meeting.
NFU's general secretary and Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry had already flown to Labasa from Suva when he was informed of the cancellation.
Sources say on Saturday morning Chaudhry defied the permit and gathered his executives for a meeting but police became aware of it.
Before they arrived at the meeting venue, Chaudhry hurriedly left the premises after being tipped off and instead Surendra Lal was arrested. He was released on Sunday.
A permit to hold NFU’s general body meeting (national AGM) at Lautoka was canceled at the last minute on Saturday May 16.
According to our sources, Chaudhry is trying hard to instigate a harvest boycott by firstly using the road user levy that will burden farmers, increased cost of fertilizer (which he is guilty of instigating and short-changing farmers as an interim sugar minister), and deductions from the 4th cane payment.