§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether the Secretary of State is aware that, in the reports published in the Indian Daily News of Calcutta, and in other Anglo Indian newspapers, respecting the manner in which the "pacification" of Burmah is being carried on, it is declared that—It is a very common thing to hear young officers, especially in the police, say that it is a mistake to take prisoners;that—One young officer, who had been in the service scarcely a year, was heard to boast that he had sentenced only a few less than one hundred men to die;that of one of these young officers it is stated that—Having hunted down a certain man, he, as usual, sentenced him to death;that the officer last referred to proceeded to carry out, in a particular case, a sentence of death without having received confirmation of the sentence from the Commissioner, without which the sentence could not legally be carried out, and, when a reply came refusing sanction, nevertheless hanged the victims—And reported that the order came too late;that in regard to a certain operation against alleged dacoits, for which the officer in command received the thanks of the Chief Commissioner, it—By-and-bye oozed out that the attack in question was upon a peaceful village, and that women and children had been shot down, and that the matter was inquired into, and the only 299 notice of it taken was that some of the police were punished for firing without orders;the thanks to the officer not being withdrawn, and he not censured or punished; that in another instance an officer acting, for the Commissioner of a division, while so acting, received an appeal from an alleged dacoit against a sentence of ten years' imprisonment—He immediately enhanced the sentence to one of hanging, and the man was hanged;and, whether, in view of these charges, and similar charges testified to by the Rangoon correspondent of the Times in a recent issue of that paper, the Secretary of State will order an inquiry to be made with a view to the removal, if found existing, of the abuses described, and to the punishment of officials who are alleged to have misused the powers entrusted to them if that misuse of powers be proved against them?
SIR J. GORST
The Secretary of State has no ground for believing the charges to which the hon. Member gives Currency by his Question to be true. He cannot direct any inquiry without some primâ facie evidence, and such particulars as will enable him to identify the officers against whose conduct charges are made.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
May I ask whether Her Majesty's Government consider statements of this grave character made in such a newspaper as the Times are not worth investigation? If the hon. Gentleman regards the Times as utterly unreliable I will not press the question.
SIR J. GORST
I understand the grave charges to be quoted from the Friend of India, and not from the Times.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
The last paragraph of my Question states that similar charges were testified to be true by the Rangoon correspondent of the Times.