HC Deb 09 February 1931 vol 248 cc2-5
3. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any inquiry has been ordered into the charges made against the police of beating women in a procession at Borsad, in the Kaira district, on the 20th or 21st of January last?


The charges have been carefully examined by the Bombay Government who issued a press-note on the 3rd February and propose similarly to publish to-day the results of their further inquiries. I understand that force was used only when stone throwing was started by the men collected behind the women as the result of which two policemen were injured, and when the 30 police present were in danger of becoming scattered and overwhelmed by the pressure of the crowd of over 2,000 men and women. I will circulate an extract from a telegram received during the week-end from the Bombay Government in regard to the incident.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask is he aware that in both the London "Times" and the "Times of India" this case was mentioned as being rather out of the ordinary?


Yes. Inquiries have been made, and it is the result of those inquiries which I shall furnish to my hon. and gallant Friend and the House in the form of a statement.


Is it not possible, in this and similar cases to have representatives of bodies other than the Government making those inquiries in order that they may not have the appearance of being partial.


I am satisfied that the inquiries are genuine inquiries, and I am satisfied that it is the desire of the Government to see that nothing improper Occurs.

Following is the extract from the telegram from the Bombay Government: Main features of the Borsad incident on 21st January are as follow: Demonstration consisted of women's processions organised to protest against two alleged instances of ill-treatment of women. No truth in one which had been subject of magisterial inquiry and proved wholly false. District Magistrate had recently issued statement of true facts. The other was trivial incident even if true about which no formal complaint has even yet been made and which had not previously been heard of by Local Officers. Borsad is a turbulent place and scene of communal riots in the past and headquarters of violent agitation during the present campaign. Extra police have been posted there, and no demonstrations of any kind permitted for some months because of grave danger of violent outbursts. In the circumstances, no question of permitting this demonstration nor was any prohibitory order necessary in advance since policy in force was well-known to all. Organisers were 16 women from Ashram at Ahmedabad who had for some days settled in adjoining Baroda country to incite no-tax compaign in Borsad. 1,500 to 2,000 women from Baroda and surrounding country were brought to Borsad to hold processions on large scale and defy and tire out the police. Many men also joined in or were sympathetic onlookers, of whom some were armed with sticks, billhooks and stones. Some women carried stones, but it is not clear whether they threw them. Of 75 police stationed at Borsad, only 30 were present at the scene including officers and non-commissioned officers. Two small processions induced to disperse without trouble. Third was a large one of 1,500, with women massed in front and men behind. They pushed against the police cordons; the women threw dust in the eyes of the police nearest them and stone-throwing started from behind women, injuring two policemen. Police in danger of being scattered and overwhelmed had to use force to disperse. Most injuries to women caused by pushing with lathis and butts of rifles. Some were unavoidably injured by lathi blows in dispersing the men. Some probably trodden in the melee. Subsequently, fourth procession of 500 dispersed without force. Police rendered first aid, and 21 persons taken to dispensary for treatment; other injured went away of own accord, which made it impossible to estimate total number. Of the women taken to dispensary, worst case was of knee injury which prevented walking; one other case reported of injury to the head, drawing blood. The allegation that no men took part is disproved by the fact that of 21 rioters treated in the dispensary no fewer than 11 were men. The further allegation that assault was unprovoked is groundless, in face of facts that small body of police had to face large crowd(s) and peacefully dispersed three out of four processions, and only used force when attacked and in danger of being overwhelmed. There is no ground for supposing that further inquiry would elicit any new facts of importance or in any way upset the conclusions stated above. Use of women is deliberate part of Congress policy intended to embarrass the police and the Government. Instructions to avoid the use of force against women whenever possible have been in force for some time and are obeyed, but in the last resort the law must be enforced.

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will give the House information regarding the attack made by the police on students in the compound of the Curzon Hall at Dacca University on 21st July last, stating how many injuries, fatal and non-fatal, were suffered by the students?


I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by the Member in charge of the police portfolio in the course of a debate in the Bengal Legislative Council on the 12th August, a copy of the report of which has been placed in the Library.