Heavy police presence: Officers deployed to carry out awareness campaigns – Tudravu

Police officers on patrol at Tavua town - Saturday, July 31, 2021. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Heavy police presence was felt in certain parts of the country yesterday as information of an alleged protest against the passing of Bill 17 reached the Fiji Police Force.

In Tavua Town, police officers in uniform and civilian clothing patrolled through the streets while police checkpoints were erected at each entry point.

A team from this newspaper visited the town yesterday where patrolling officers covered each main street.

According to a villager who wished to remain anonymous, police officers visited the village in the early hours of yesterday morning to discuss the issue with villagers.

Fiji Police Force Acting Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu said officers were deployed to carry out awareness campaigns after the force received information about a protest.

“Officers had been conducting visitations and awareness throughout Fiji after hearing of intentions to protest against the Land Bill,” A/CP Tudravu said.

“The response had been positive as people appreciated the fact that officers were able to advise them of the importance of following the legal avenues of addressing their grievances and not to be easily swayed by things posted on social media as those posting are often living overseas or have fake profiles.

“It has been positive also in the sense that information sharing has enabled officers to act quickly on information and we appreciate the support of members of the community.

“The protest wasn’t stopped by police but the villagers had provided the information willingly out of their concern of not wanting to get involved in any illegal activities.”

The amendment to Section 12 of the iTaukei Lands Trust Act was passed in Parliament on Friday with the Prime Minister and iTaukei Affairs Minister Voreqe Bainimarama maintaining that the change would not affect the rights or interests of iTaukei landowners.

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