§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether a force of 14,000 men has been organised to proceed against Umra Khan, some 200 miles beyond the Indian frontier; and, if so, whether the expedition is being sent under instructions from the Secretary of State; whether he will inform the House what action on the part of 1549 Umra Khan has rendered this expedition necessary; and whether the expenses of this military operation are being defrayed from the Revenues of India; and, if so, whether this is being done in accordance with the provisions of Section 55 of 21 & 22 Vic., c. 106.
MR. GEORGE RUSSELL
The facts are approximately as stated in the first clause of the hon. Member's question, but the distance is less than 200 miles. Chitral is a State under British protection, being tributary to Kashmir, and is the residence of a British Agent. In consequence of recent troubles in Chitral, and in response to a request for recognition from the de, facto ruler, Dr. Robertson, the political officer at Gilgit, was sent in January to Chitral to inquire and report. Since then Umra Khan, the ruler of some neighbouring Pathan States, has invaded Chitral with a large force, and is believed to be now investing Dr. Robertson and his escort in the Chitral fort. Considering the urgent necessity for relieving Dr. Robertson without delay, the Government of India have summoned Umra Khan to evacuate Chitral by the 1st of April; and in view of the possibility of his refusal, are preparing a force to March from Peshawur on that date. The Government of India state that they consider no other method of relief to be possible; they have duly notified to the Secretary of State the measures which they propose to take, and they have been informed by him that the steps which they deem necessary for the relief of Dr. Robertson and his party have his full approval. The expense of these preparations is being defrayed by the Government of India, and the Secretary of State is advised that nothing has been done in contravention of Section 55 of the Act for the Better Government of India.