HC Deb 11 May 1931 vol 252 cc796-9

asked the Secretary of State for India the latest information in regard to the armed rising in Burma; how many casualties have occurred to date among the armed forces of the Crown and the rebels, respectively: and how many rebels have been taken prisoner?


asked the Secretary of State for India if he will make a full statement on the present situation of the rebellion in Burma; and if he can say how far local disturbance has originated from the activities of the General Council of Burma Association?


asked the Secretary of State for India whether in view of the persistence of revolutionary movements in Burma, with their accompanying loss of life, he will consider the desirability of organising larger-scale military operations to re-establish tranquility?


I am circulating a statement giving my latest information up to the week end.

With regard to the second part of question No. 8, the Headquarters of the General Council of Burmese Associations have not been directly implicated in the rebellion.

As to Question No. 23, troops are being posted at Meiktila, Shwebo, and Yenang Yaung as a precautionary measure.

Another battalion of Infantry has been summoned from India and will arrive this week. It will be utilised according to the developments of the situation.


On a point of Order. When these questions are put down separately, would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to answer specifically each one, instead of reading the answers together?


It is a valuable saving of time to answer them together.


Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the second part of Question 21?


In order to save the time of the House, I am circulating a rather long statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Let us have it."] I will gladly do so, but it is a very long statement.

The number of rebels killed since the beginning of the rebellion is not accurately known, but is probably over 1,000. About 2,000 have been captured. This total includes villagers rounded up on suspicion, of whom the majority have been released. Casualties on the Government side are being collected and are not yet known with complete accuracy. One District Superintendent of Police, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, and an Inspector have been killed or are missing, believed killed, and one District Superintendent of Police, two British officers, one surgeon, one Subadar wounded, of other ranks about 15 have been killed and small number wounded. The number of headman and villagers killed by rebels is probably about 100. The only European killed was Mr. Austin, the District Superintendent of Police.


In view of the fact that, between Whitsuntide and the end of the Session, the Government will be asked to give a discussion on this matter and Cawnpore, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it is possible, through the medium of a dispatch from the Government of India, to have a full and detailed account of this rebellion or outbreak, and the reasons which the Government ascribe to it, so that the House may be in possession of full information before the Debate?


In deference to the House, I sent rather long telegrams, and I have had long replies, but I am grateful to the Noble Lord for his suggestion, and I will consider getting a full written account for the information of the House.


With regard to the latter part of Question 23, does the right hon. Gentleman anticipate intensified trouble out there in view of further armed forces moving?


When the right hon. Gentleman is making his inquiry, will he examine whether there are economic and political causes for these events?


Certainly, that will be closely examined.

Following is the statement:

Since the statement circulated on the 27th April the situation in the Tharrawaddy, Insein, and Henzada districts has continued to improve. The rebels are avoiding contact with Government forces, but two or three large gangs are still believed to exist, and to be hiding in the jungles. Columns of Government forces are endeavouring to hunt down these gangs. The principal trouble in these three districts is the number of small dacoities, carried out by small gangs. These are becoming less numerous in Tharrawaddy and Insein but are still frequent in Henzada.

In Thayetmyo District Kama township was reported on the 7th May to be still in a state of armed insurrection, but the rebels have now retired to the inaccessible country in the south west of the district, and it has not yet been possible to get into contact with them.

The most important recent event is a rising in the Prome District, to the east of the Irrawaddy River. The district superintendent of police, Mr. W. H. Austin, with 10 civil police, was attacked by about 60 rebels on the 5th May while resting at a village on the way to investigate a reported dacoity. Seven of the party, including Mr. Austin and an inspector of police, were either killed or are missing, and it is feared were killed. A party of military police subsequently met and dispersed the rebels after inflicting casualties. The situation in Prome District is still uncertain, but the rebellion is said to be confined to about four villages. Further military police and troops have been sent to Prome.

In view of the possibility of a rising in the dry zone of Upper Burma during the rains, when operations are impossible in Lower Burma, troops are being posted at Meiktila Shwebo and Yenang Yaung. One more battalion of Indian infantry is coming from India this week, and will be utilised according to development of situation.

The forces at present in operation against rebels in all districts are 1,100 military police and two battalions of infantry.

A complicating factor in the situation as the spread of communal feeling against Indians in Lower Burma. Precautionary measures are being taken to deal with any eventualities.


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he can yet make any statement as to the carrying on of the proposals of the Round Table Conference for the future government of Burma?


No, Sir. The matter is still under consideration.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is nearly five months since a decision was made by the Government, and will not many of the difficulties experienced in the last few questions be avoided if this matter can be hastened?


Haste is very desirable, but so, also, is judgment.