Exiled USP chief, Dr Lal now free to enter Fiji, says Rabuka

Professor Pal Ahluwalia on his deportation flight in 2021
Professor Pal Ahluwalia on his deportation flight in 2021 . . . treatment by the previous Fiji government was "unreasonable and inhumane". Image: Fiji Sun

By Josefa Babitu in Suva

The greenlight has been given to University of the South Pacific vice-chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, and Dr Padma Lal, to return to Fiji by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Professor Ahluwalia was deported in 2021 and Dr Lal — widow of the late leading Fiji academic Professor Brij Lal — was refused entry to Fiji along with her husband.

Exiled Professor Ahluwalia currently resides in Samoa and Dr Lal in Australia.

Rabuka has made it clear today that both of them are free to enter the country.

“I am ready to meet Dr Lal and Professor Ahluwalia personally,” he said.

“I will apologise on behalf of the people of Fiji for the way they were treated.”

Dr Lal had been prevented from coming to Fiji with her husband’s ashes for them to be taken to his birthplace at Tabia, near Labasa.

First anniversary
Today marks the first anniversary of Professor Lal’s death.

Rabuka said prohibition orders against Professor Brij Lal and Dr Lal, as well as Professor Ahluwalia, were “unreasonable and inhumane” and should never have been made.

He had promised his government would bring to an end the injustices suffered by Professor Ahluwalia, and Professor Lal.

“I received a clarification today from the Department of Immigration that neither Dr Padma Lal nor Professor Ahluwalia were the subject of written prohibition orders,” he said.

Josefa Babitu is a Fiji Sun reporter and USP journalism graduate. Republished from the Fiji Sun.

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