HC Deb 15 March 1844 vol 73 cc1066-7
Sir R. H. Inglis

would take that opportunity of putting the questions of which he had given notice, in reference to the measures taken by the British Government, with respect to idolatry in India. The House might recollect that he had put some questions, in the course of the last Session, with regard to the separation and disconnection of the European servants of the East India Company from all interference with Mahomedan mosques and Hindoo pagodas, and with the management of the lands belonging to them, and also as to whether steps had been taken to stop the pension or allowance granted to the idol of Juggernaut. The answer was perfectly satisfactory with regard to the Presidency of Bombay, and all but satisfactory with regard to that of Bengal. But it was not satisfactory with regard to that of Madras. What he wished now to ask was, whether all connection of the European servants of the Company with idolatrous or Mabomedan worship had been everywhere discontinued? Whether it had not been referred to the authorities in India, as to whether a pledge had or had not been given, when the territory became British, of continuing the allowance to the idol Juggernaut, and whether the answer were, that no pledge to continue that allowance had been given? He also wished to know, whether his right hon. Friend would have any objection to lay on the Table of the House the despatch which had been sent with the pamphlet of Mr. Strachan to the Governor General.

Sir R. Peel

said the House might recollect that it was stated in the pamphlet of Mr. Strachan that 60,000 rupees were paid by the Indian Government for the support of the idol of Juggernaut in consequence of a stipulation to that effect, and he also stated, that the pilgrimages in honour of the idol were sanctioned by the Indian Government—and that the police were in the habit of forcing reluctant persons to assist in drawing the car of Juggernaut. A copy of the pamphlet was immediately transmitted to the Governor General. He had no objection to communicate the despatch which had been sent on the subject by the Court of Directors. On seeing the despatch, his hon. Friend would he best able to judge how the matter stood as far as regarded the British Government. With regard to the continuance of the assistance of the servants of the company at the pagodas, he had to state that in Bombay a committee was appointed, which took the management of the lands out of the hands of those who managed them before. The same rule prevailed in the Government of Bengal. He was not enabled to state exactly what had been done in the Government of Madras; but he hoped that the arrival of the next mails would enable him to inform the hon. Gentleman of the steps which had been taken by the Government of India on this subject. He should be prepared to lay on the Table all the correspondence relating to the subject.