§ 69. Mr. GALLACHER
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he can give the House information regarding the stay-in strike which took place in a British-owned cotton mill in Pondicherry at the end of July last; whether he is aware that the British con- 872 sular representative at Pondicherry notified the French authorities that if the latter would not intervene against the strike he would request the governor of Madras to do so, and a force of police and sepoys was ultimately sent to break the strike; and what number of Indian workers lost their lives during the attack in the cotton mill?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension as to the facts. Towards the end of July strikes occurred in the textile mills in Pondicherry, which spread to the British cotton mill there, and, on the afternoon of 29th July a body of strikers in possession of the main gates of the British mill declared their intention of holding the European staff and their families as hostages until their demands were conceded. In response to a request for assistance addressed to the French authorities, a force of French sepoys and police was sent, which succeeded in effecting the rescue of the imprisoned persons. No notification of the kind suggested by the hon. Member was made to the French authorities. I understand that there were no casualties among British subjects, but that one French sepoy and two labourers lost their lives during the disturbances.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
Is the Under-Secretary not aware that a statement of this character has appeared, not only in the Press in India, but in the European Press; and will he tell us how many of the strikers were casualties as a consequence of the attack?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I have given the hon. Member the information in my possession. In my original answer I informed him that one French sepoy and two labourers lost their lives during the disturbance.