§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the complaints of the Buddhist Archbishop in Upper Burmah, that many villages, after having been plundered by dacoits, were destroyed by the British Troops; and, whether these complaints are well founded; and, if so, what measures the Indian Government have taken to protect the lives and property of the inoffensive inhabitants of the Country?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. STAFFORD HOWARD) (Gloucester, Thornbury)
I have had the advantage of consulting Colonel Sladen and Sir Henry Prendergast on the subject of the hon. Member's Question, and I am satisfied that there has been no unnecessary destruction of villages by our troops. It is perfectly true that villages have been burnt; but in the great majority of cases this has been done by dacoits, or by villagers making common cause with dacoits. At times, however, when it has been found that villagers have harboured 1141 dacoits and actively opposed our troops, the houses of any leading men which may have escaped, fire or pillage have been destroyed by order of the officer commanding the troops. Incendiarism is commonly practised in all parts of Burmah by thieves, with the object of pillaging during the confusion caused by the fires. Many fires are caused in this way.