HC Deb 04 April 1928 vol 215 cc1944-5

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he is aware of the industrial dispute on the East India Railway at Liluah; that the European railway staff was armed against the Indian railway workers who are on strike; and that the European staff, assisted by the local police, took part in firing upon a party of strikers who were on picket duty at Bagamachi; and how many persons have been killed and how many wounded by this firing?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

It has been found necessary to close the Lilloah workshops on the East India Railway since 7th March owing to the men's refusal to work. Certain other men employed on the East India Railway in the vicinity of Howrah also stopped work largely owing to intimidation, but these are beginning to return. On 28th March a riot broke out at Bamangachi near Howrah in connection with the strike. The rioters, who are believed to have been mostly strikers from the workshops, attempted to rush into the locomotive yard in order, apparently, to force the workmen there to join in the strike. The police were heavily stoned by the rioters, several being severely injured, including two superintendents (one of whom had his ribs broken), and after repeated warnings a rifleman of the East Frontier Rifles, a special police force, was ordered to fire one shot, which was followed by four other shots at intervals of about one minute each. The crowd then desisted from the attack. One man was killed and four were injured, one of whom died in hospital later. An inquiry was immediately commenced by the district magistrate at Howrah.


I am not quite clear with regard to the answer to my question as to whether the European officials of the railway company, in view of any military duties they have, might have taken part in the firing?


I do not think they did. I understand that, there were certain officials of the railway company who were sworn in as special constables. There seems to be no question that the firing was necessitated by the fact that the police were in actual danger of their lives. I respectfully ask the hon. Member not to ask any further questions until the result of the magisterial inquiry is known.