HC Deb 03 June 1921 vol 142 cc1408-10W

"A telegram from the Government of India, dated 26th May, has been received by the India Office regarding a strike of tea gardens coolies in Chargola Valley, in Karimganj, a sub-division of Sylhet, in Assam. As the result of discussion between leading planters and the Divisional Commissioner, most managers announced an increase of wages. Thereupon many coolies returned to the gardens but some thousand of them gathered at Karimganj Railway Station for the purpose of travelling to their homes in the Central Provinces and United Provinces. Precautions have been taken by the local Government against disease and for protection of the destitute, but the local Government considers it impossible to repa- triate able-bodied men, as this might cause an exodus elsewhere.

The Governor in Council has taken ordinary security measures.

Many coolies have arrived in Bengal and the local authorities have sent about 500 of them to Goalundo and the remainder to Asansol, where they were held up with cholera. Those infected were sent to a cholera camp. A second body of 950 coolies who came to Bengal were also sent to Goalundo, but on finding that the Bengal Government would not repatriate them walked towards Nihati. Many took to the railway on being provided with money collected locally. At Chandpur several cases of cholera are reported. Coolies rushed a mail steamer there on 21st May, assaulted a sub-divisional officer and a representative of the Tea Association. Over 300 of them got on the steamer and went to Goalundo. The Tea Association have sent representatives to try and induce the coolies to return to their work, but unsuccessfully. A later telegram, dated the 24th, from the Bengal Government, says that order has been restored at Chandpur after a certain amount of force had been used. Thirty coolies were injured, none of them seriously, and newspaper reports that coolies were drowned are false. Hartals are in progress at Chandpur, Chittagong and Comilla and are threatened in other towns. On the Assam Bengal Railway a general strike has begun, and there is a threat of a steamer strike.

According to the latest news from Assam the exodus had stopped, at any rate, for the time being."