HC Deb 22 May 1879 vol 246 cc1008-9

asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether it is true that there has been a renewal of popular disturbances, accompanied by incendiary fires, in the Bombay Presidency; to what cause it is attributed; and, what steps the Government have taken to carry out the pledge given three years ago of measures for the relief of the agricultural population in the Deccan?


My noble Friend the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cranbrook) telegraphed the other day to the Governor of Bombay with the view of obtaining the latest information on the subject; and, with the permission of the House, I will read the reply, dated May 21, of Sir Richard Temple— Your Lordship's telegram regarding Deccan troubles.—Recent Dacoities occurred in villages, either side, above and below mountains, western border, Poona and Sattara districts. Robbery only, not murder. Plans laid for seizing money and valuables, to be secreted in hilly jungles for future use. Dacoits, hill men of hardy, daring character, led by one or two educated persons. Numbers small; not exceeding 300. They are in two or three gangs; but steep hills and thick jungle favour their operations. First symptoms early last March, when we placed detachments of troops at all the principal places near Eastern side of mountains to prevent evil spreading, besides increased police precautions. Original leader and gang soon captured. Trouble checked end March to middle April; began again end April. Additional detachments of troops despatched, and special pursuing parties organized under European officers. Capture of one desperate gang just effected, and stolen property recovered; leader not caught, but systematically pursued. Poona city fires directed against two old Mahratta palaces, used by British for public purposes. The incendiarism probably intended to annoy Government. Dacoities at present quite localized. Cause believed to be general. No local reason yet shown to exist. No sign of agrarian trouble. Distress increasing in Eastern Deccan, but relief administered. As regards the last Question of the hon. Gentleman, I have only to say that the subject has been under the very careful consideration of Her Majesty's Government; and the Government of Bombay have recently prepared a Bill, mainly in accordance with certain suggestions sent out to them from the Secretary of State in Council. That Bill is now under the consideration of the Government of India. There will be no objection, when a conclusion has been arrived at upon it, to lay it on the Table.