Fighting in Punjab.

Oral Answers to Questions — India. – in the House of Commons on 25th February 1924.

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Photo of Mr John Simpson Mr John Simpson , Taunton

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the engagement between Akali Sikhs and troops of the Nabha State in the Punjab, which occurred on Friday last, and in which 14 Sikhs were killed and 34 wounded; whether it is true that Dr. Kichlu has been arrested in connection with this outbreak; and whether in view of its grave character the Prime Minister can give any further information.

Photo of Mr Robert Richards Mr Robert Richards , Wrexham

Such information as we have received has already been published in the Press, and I have at present nothing to add. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the latest telegram received from the Government of India, which embodies the two Press communiqu├ęs issued in India.

Photo of Mr John Simpson Mr John Simpson , Taunton

Was the officer in command of the troops a British or a native officer, and were the troops Imperial Service or native troops?

Photo of Mr William Joynson-Hicks Mr William Joynson-Hicks , Twickenham

If the telegram which the hon. Gentleman is sending to the hon. Member opposite has not been published in the Press, will he kindly circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Following is copy of the telegram referred to:

From VICEROY, Home Department, to SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA.

(Dated Delhi, 23rd February, 1924.)

(Received 23rd February, 1924.)

628–3—P. Please refer to my telegram in Home Department, S—233—P. of 22nd February. Following two communiques have been issued: First communique. Begins—The recent order issued by the Administrator of Nabha State regarding the conditions of admission to Garudwara at Jaito has been disregarded by Akalis in spite of frequent intimations, and Jatha of 500 left Bargari in Faridkot State shortly after noon yesterday and advanced on Jaito, screened by a body of some 6,000 other Akalis who moved on a 600 yard front in great depth, armed with lathis, chavis, spears, and firearms. The Administrator with 5 state officials advanced about 100 yards to meet Akalis, gave them full warning and called on them to halt and explained that if they did not comply with his orders he would be compelled to open fire. This warning was utterly disregarded by Akalis, who hotly pursued Administrator and his party. At this point a Nabha villager received a wound from a bullet fired by Akalis. The Administrator gave orders to fire 3 rounds buckshot at leaders who were within a few yards. The lines of Akalis then swerved to their right where a platoon of Nabha infantry was in position. Order to fire 3 rounds controlled fire with service ammunition was given by Administrator. Akalis and Jatha then made for small outlying Gurudwara called Tibbi Sahih and one squadron of cavalry moved over to try and head them off. The Akalis at this moment increased their fire and delivered determined attacks led by a mounted Akali who gave orders in English to his comrades to charge. Fire from 10 dismounted cavalry checked the Akalis, but Jatha advanced under Tibbi Sahih, while about 2,000 Akalis swarmed into Tibbi Sahih Gurudwara. The remainder were already moving off and party of 2,000 gradually broke up, left room (sic? leaving) 100 who are now under arrest at Jaito. Medical assistance was promptly rendered to the wounded. After the firing, Doctor Kitchloo and Professor Gidwani arrived on the scene in a motor, and were taken into custody. Total casualties so far ascertained are 14 dead and 34 wounded. The Jatha itself was not fired upon and no member of it was injured. Great care was taken not to interfere with the Granth Sahib which has been deposited with due respect in Dharmsala. A special enquiry by a magistrate has been ordered. Ends.Second communique. Begins—In this morning's communique about the occurrence at Jaito, it was stated no member of the Jatha was injured. A later report indicates that this statement requires correction. A portion of the Jatha got mixed up with the crowd of other Akalis, and 4 of them were killed and 12 wounded. It is confirmed that the Jatha, as such, was not fired upon. Ends.

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Rugby

Arising out of the inaudibility of the hon. Gentleman's answers, will the India Office take steps to get a loud speaker?