HC Deb 30 May 1932 vol 266 cc806-8

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is now in a position to give the result of the inquiry into the complaints against the police officers at Benares who wore accused of maltreating a number of young girls?


As great publicity has been given to these charges, the House will, I feel sure, expect me to answer this question in some detail.

The police officers charged in this case were honourably acquitted by the District Magistrate on the 18th May. He found that the police arrested eight women for causing a disturbance and took them to the Thana. The officer in charge was absent making investigations, but he was communicated with and, as soon as he heard that the women arrested were not persons of any importance, he ordered their immediate release, as is the usual procedure in such cases. They were accordingly released after about one hour's detention.

The District Magistrate noted that the preliminary inquiry, as the result of which the police officers were placed on trial, was worthless owing to the exclusion of any evidence which might have assisted the defence. The women arrested were not, as has been publicly stated, members of respectable families; all but one were Hindu widows who had left the protection of their husbands' families and had no visible means of support. It was significant that two attempts were made to stop the trial in open court. Letters were sent to the District Magistrate before the trial began purporting to be signed by the women concerned saying that they bore no grudge against the police and were satisfied now that the truth of their allegations had been demonstrated. It was ascertained during the trial that the signatories to these letters did not know what was written in them and the evidence indicated that throughout the proceedings the women in question had been merely tools in the hands of the assistant manager of the Aj newspaper in which the allegations were first published.

The District Magistrate concluded that the whole case against the police was false, that the story of the women being stripped was false, that the alleged beating had not taken place and that there was little doubt that the whole business was concocted for political purposes, either in revenge or to deter the police from dealing with women volunteers.


Will my right hon. Friend make inquiries in India as to whether any steps are being taken to prosecute for perjury persons, both in India and this country, who have repeated these statements?


I am already making such inquiries.


Were the women, who were alleged to have been the victims of this assault, examined?


Yes, certainly, I feel sure that that was the case.

Commander MARSDEN

Is it not a fact that the fabrication and publication of stories of this character are simply part of the Congress campaign of propaganda?


Yes, Sir; that certainly is the case, and this instance is another warning of the great risk of accepting gross and libellous statements of this kind.


What action is being taken against this particular newspaper?


That is one of the points about which I am making further inquiries.

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