§ SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)
To ask the Secretary of State of India whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a Harisankirtan party, consisting of twelve men, and constituting a procession of a purely religious character, were arrested by the police on the 28th May for passing through the streets of Muktagacha, in the Mymensingh district of the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, and for singing religious songs; and whether, looking to the fact that religious processions of this character have been customary in Muktagacha during the past eighteen years, and that they are now interfered with under the recent orders authorising the police to require licences for public processions, he will issue instructions to the Government of India that religious processions shall not be obstructed by the police.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) As I stated in reply to a Question on the 14th June,† the only restrictions on processions, religious or otherwise, now in force in Eastern Bengal are those imposed by the ordinary law. A procession of the kind referred to would in ordinary circumstances call for no action by the police, but the recent rioting between† See (4) Debates, clviii., 1130.350 Hindus and Mahomedans in Mymensingh may have rendered a stricter enforcement of the law necessary.