§ 1. Brigadier - General CLIFTON BROWN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether the recent Sikh-Moslem trouble over an old mosque at Lahore has now subsided; whether British troops had to be used to restore law and order and, if so, why; and whether there were any casualties among police, troops, or civilians?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a summary of the events which led to the recent disturbances in Lahore. The latest reports show that the city is now quiet. The 726 military forces available in the district have been used to picket and patrol the city, and in particular to isolate the area in which the mosque is situated. The reports so far received do not show to what extent British troops have been used for this purpose; but in any case the military forces had no occasion so far as I am aware to use forcible measures to restore law and order. No casualties among the troops have been reported, but four isolated assaults of a murderous kind were committed in the city, the victims being Sikhs. Two of these assaults have proved fatal; the alleged murderers in both cases were arrested at once.
May I ask whether British troops were brought down from the hills; if not, what British troops were used?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I understand from the information that I have available that a small detachment of British troops were brought in from Sialkot. That is all the information I have at present.
If they had to bring in troops, why could not they have used Indian troops who were quartered there? Was it because they could not be trusted in communal trouble?
§ Mr. BUTLER
My hon. and gallant Friend must not make any inference of that sort. The hulk of the troops employed were Indian, and, in addition, there was the detachment to which I have referred, according to the information which I have available.
§ Following is the summary:
§ The trouble arose out of a dispute regarding a disused Moslem mosque situated in the grounds of a Sikh temple at Lahore. The civil rights of the Sikhs to this mosque has been confirmed by a legal Tribunal, but the Muslims had appealed against its decision, and were anxious to have the mosque restored to their community. Despite the efforts of the Punjab Government to promote a settlement which would be honourable to both sides, news was received early in the morning of the 8th July, that the Sikhs intnded to demolish the mosque. In view of the legal position it was impossible to prevent them from carrying out their intention and the local Government 727 therefore immediately devoted its endeavours towards preventing any possible bloodshed, the danger of which on a large scale was obviously great.