HC Deb 11 March 1859 vol 153 cc22-4

said, he rose to put a question to the Secretary of State for India respecting the disturbances which have taken place in Travanore:—With respect to the burning of Mission Chapels; the ill-treatment of Missionaries and Native Converts; the interruption of Low Caste funerals by men of High Caste; and the alleged conduct of the British Resident. The hon. Baronet, who was almost inaudible, said that a letter had been received from the Rev. Mr. Baylis of Negoor, South Travancore, in which the following passage occurred:— The higher caste Natives, especially the Nairs (the Malayan Soodras) are rising against the Shanars, especially against those of them who are Christians. Seven of our chapels have been burnt down. ! Last night seventy-nine houses belonging to Roman. Catholics in Kotar, a large place near Nagercoil, were burnt down, and a woman and child perisnea. The British Resident's bungalow (used when he is out on circuit) has been burnt down. Mr. Baylis went on to say,— The Resident gave us an interview, though not at first with a very good grace, and had the Dewan present. The following letter bad also been received from the Rev. Mr. Lewis, at Santhapooran, South Travancore:— The present dispute is between the Soodras and other high castes on the one hand and the Shanars and other low castes on the other, and not between the heathen and Christian portion of the community. He states] that the Christian Natives and others also have adopted a sort of jacket to cover themselves from the waist upwards. The Soodras, enraged at this, are Beating them unmercifully, plundering their houses, and setting them, as well as our chapels, on fire. In all this they are secretly, and in some instances publicly, encouraged by the Circar officials, all of whom are high caste men. The complaints of the Shanars on this score are rejected by the Government, and their evidence refused; the evidence of the Soodras only, the aggressors in the whole affair, is received by them. The British Resident, General Cullen, also sides with the high caste portion of the community, so that the Shanars, including all our Native Christians, being proscribed, have not a friend belonging to the Government who will speak a word in their behalf, or who has any desire to aid them what the people of Trarancore require, and what they ought to have, is the same privilege as the same classes enjoy in the neighbouring territory of Tin-nivelly,—namely, the liberty for men and women of all castes to dress and build their houses as they choose. He hoped the noble Lord would give the House an assurance that, while unbounded toleration would be extended by the Government to all religious beliefs, care would be taken that mutual toleration should be practised by religionists among themselves.


stated that no official information had yet been received upon the subject to which the hon. Baronet had directed his attention, and he did not think it would be proper or convenient that he should enter into a discussion upon it in the absence of such information. He did not mean to cast any discredit upon the statements which the hon. Baronet had read to the House, but it must be recollected that they were made on the authority of private individuals; and he thought it would only be dealing fairly with the officers of the Government if he asked the House to suspend its judgment till the official statements and the opinions of the local authorities at Madras should have been received. As to that general pledge which the hon. Baronet asked him to give, he thought the best and most fitting pledge he could give of his determination to do impartial justice was to wait till all the facts were before him, and then to deal with the question in that manner which the facts appeared to justify.


said, he would repeat his question next Friday.