HC Deb 09 May 1916 vol 82 cc448-9
41. and 42. Mr. KING

asked the Secretary of State for India (1) whether during the time in which Hindu soldiers were fighting on the Western front Hindu soldiers killed in action or dying from wounds or sickness were cremated, in accordance with the religion and usage of their race; whether special facilities were available for this purpose; whether any expense so incurred will be borne by the British taxpayer; and (2) whether during the time in which Indian soldiers were operating on the Western front Mahomedan soldiers who were killed in action or who died from wounds or sickness were buried in such manner as to satisfy the demands of their religion; whether any special burial ground in this country was available or was provided for this purpose; and whether any expense incurred in this connection may be so met as to fall on the British taxpayer?

The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Chamberlain)

Under the conditions of warfare it is not generally possible to arrange for the cremation of the bodies of Hindu soldiers killed in action or otherwise dying at the front, nor is it required by religious precept. As far as circumstances have permitted, interments have been reverently carried out by fellow castemen with appropriate rites, frequently in special plots in the local cemeteries. The burial of the Mahomedan dead has similarly been carried out by fellow Moslems in accordance with their religious ritual. Careful records of all such burials of Hindus and Mahomedans have been kept so that permanent headstones may hereafter be put up. At the larger base hospitals in France and England it has been possible to provide crematoria for the cremation of Hindus. A special burial ground has been provided at public expense at Woking for Mahomedan soldiers who have died in this country.