HC Deb 05 August 1897 vol 52 cc380-2

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, having regard to the special circumstances of the case, it will be possible to make an extra allowance to the widow of Lieutenant Ayerst, who was murdered at Poona on the 22nd June last?


In cases of this kind it is usual to leave the initiative to the Government of India. Any recommendation which they may make in favour of the widows of Mr. Rand and Lieutenant Ayerst will receive the careful consideration of the Secretary of State in Council.

SIR M. BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N.E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether Mr. Gokhlee has withdrawn, by official communication to the Bombay Government, the statements which he made to certain Members of this House and to a newspaper reporter last month regarding the alleged atrocities perpetrated by the officers and soldiers engaged in plague relief operations in Poona; and, if so, will he give such communication or the main purport of it to the House?


The Governor of Bombay telegraphed on August 2nd that he had received from Mr. Gokhlee the following telegram in reference to the allegation that native women had been violated by British soldiers. The words are:— Have just posted full statement containing explanation, full retractation, and unqualified apology. [Cheers.] The other allegations with which Mr. Gokhlee was associated were contained in a memorial, the allegations of which the Bombay Government described as wholly false in a telegram which I read to the House a few days back. Inquiries were then made as to the authenticity of the signatures attached to this memorial, which the hon. Baronet the Member for Banff introduced to the notice of the House, and upon which it was proposed to move the adjournment of the House. Lord Sandhurst's reply is as follows:— Deccan Sabha petition.—Of the 1,699 signatures 721 have been examined. Of these 144 could be found, the remaining 577 not being found or traceable and not known." [Laughter.] "Of the 144 found 14 deny their signatures; the rest say they were induced by agents of the Deccan Sabha and the Dayan prakash newspaper to sign a petition about plague measures, but 50 did not know what they were signing. Different objects held out to them to sign—more street lamps"—[laughter]—"fixing price of grain, protest against additional taxation, reduction of market rents Bhide, first signatory, admits he worked with troops from first to last, never missing a day of his turn to accompany search parties, and that he never saw any misconduct. Nawab Abdul Khan says he signed in his private capacity, never having seen memorial, knowing nothing of its contents, and never having seen any misconduct. He has been deposed from place of leader of Mahomedan community, the Mahomedans denying that they have any complaint to make against plague operations." [Cheers.]