HC Deb 12 February 1934 vol 285 cc1562-5
4. Duchess of ATHOLL

asked the Secretary of State for India if he will state the provinces in British India in which terrorist conspiracies have been discovered since 30th June, 1933; the number of such conspiracies; and if he can give any idea of the number of persons taking part in such conspiracies?


I am circulating a table giving statistics of conspiracy cases which have been instituted in the courts since last June.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Does not the fact that cases have been instituted in the courts in provinces other than Bengal show that manifestations of terrorism in those provinces are no longer mainly of an isolated character, as stated by my right hon. Friend last week, and that therefore terrorism in those provinces has taken on a more serious aspect in the last six months than in 1932?


If the Noble Lady will study the table which I am circulating, she will see that it will bear out the general sense of the remarks of my right hon. Friend. The cases have been very few and in only a few provinces.

Following is the Table:

Province. Number of Cases. Number of Accused.
Bengal 3 25
Madras 2 30
Bihar 1 2
Bombay 2 8

5. Duchess of ATHOLL

asked the Secretary of State for India if he is aware that in a recent trial of terrorists in Madras evidence was led to show that a gang of some 20 conspirators had plotted to assassinate some 50 officials simultaneously with raids on European banks and business premises, and to murder both the Governor of Madras and the Governor of Bengal during a visit of the latter to Madras; can he inform the House if all believed to be concerned in the conspiracy have been brought to trial; and whether steps have been taken to give increased protection in future against similar conspiracies?


The case is still sub judice. All that I can say is that three youths were arrested in Madras City in July, 1933, and found to be in possession of firearms. Immediate action was taken by the Madras Police and 23 persons were arrested. Charges were framed against 20 of those arrested and proceedings were taken against them under the ordinary law. The case was brought before a Special Magistrate who, in November, committeed all the accused to the Sessions Court. I am satisfied that the Police exercise all possible vigilance to guard against outbreaks of terrorist activities in Madras.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the first draft of the speech made recently by the President of the European Association in India, the evidence led, which is quoted in the question, was cited as among the reasons which had influenced the Association now to oppose the proposed transference of the Police?


I am afraid that the Government pay attention to speeches as they are delivered; but, if the Noble Lady wishes to send me any information, I shall be only too glad to receive it.

6. Duchess of ATHOLL

asked the Secretary of State for India if he is aware that on 7th January last, bombs were thrown by four Hindu terrorists among a gathering of European men, women, and children at Chittagong and that the superintendent of police was attacked; that a leaflet found on one of the terrorists killed on that occasion, signed by the Chittagong branch of the Indian republican army, stated that the Chittagong branch was launching an unrelenting and never-failing campaign against every Englishman, whether official or non-official, men or women, young or old; and, in view of these facts, can he assure the House that steps have been taken to give increased protection against similar acts of terrorism?


I have received a full official account of this attempted outrage, which was fortunately frustrated by the action of the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Cleary, who immediately challenged two terrorists whom he met on the road outside the cricket ground. On being challenged they threw a bomb which exploded but luckily did no damage, and both youths were then shot by the police authorities. Unfortunately, Mr. Cleary was shot in the hand at the same time. Two other youths then ran towards the enclosure where the spectators at the cricket match were collected, and threw two bombs which failed to explode, and fired six shots with a revolver which were without effect. Both were immediately captured and were subsequently brought to trial. They were convicted by a special tribunal on 31st January, and sentenced to death. The official account which I have received makes no mention of any leaflet being found on either of the dead terrorists. Very great credit is due to the coolness displayed by both officials and non-officials on this occasion. As hon. Members are aware, stringent precautionary measures have been in force in the Chittagong area for some time. The patrolling of the European residential area has recently been increased and additional police are engaged on this duty. A Bill to amend the Bengal Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1930, in certain directions which experience has shown to be necessary, is also now before the Bengal Council.

Duchess of ATHOLL

In view of the fact that my hon. Friend seems to be unaware of a very important leaflet which was found upon one of the conspirators, I beg to give notice that I should like to call attention to the matter upon the Adjournment.


May I ask what were the offences for which these men were sentenced to death, and whether the sentences have been carried out?


Mr. Somerville.


Can we not get an answer to the questions which I asked? The offence was not declared.


I should have thought that the offence was perfectly clear from the answer which I have given.