Political Prisoners.

Oral Answers to Questions — India. – in the House of Commons on 19th March 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any action is to be taken respecting the plea by Mr. Joshi, the trade union leader and member of the Legislative Assembly, for the release of political prisoners in India; and whether he can give any information respecting the number of students in India imprisoned or detained on political charges?

Photo of Mr Alexander Sloan Mr Alexander Sloan , South Ayrshire

asked the Secretary of State for India what representations he has received for the release of political prisoners in India; and what steps, if any, does he intend to take?

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will recommend to the Viceroy the immediate liberation of all political prisoners as a gesture that will facilitate the task of the Lord Privy Seal?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

asked the Secretary of State for India how many Indian trade unionists are now imprisoned or detained in India for political reasons; and how many university students?

Photo of Mr William Cove Mr William Cove , Aberavon

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he proposes to take any action regarding the representations made to him by Mr. Joshi, secretary of the Indian Trades Union Congress, respecting the release of all political prisoners?

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr

asked the Secretary of State for India what answer he has given to the representations made to him by Mr. Joshi, on behalf of the Indian Trade Union Congress, urging on His Majesty's Government that a valuable contribution to the immediate situation would be the release of the remaining Indian political prisoners?

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt Mr Denis Pritt , Hammersmith North

asked the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the cable recently sent by Mr. Joshi, member of the Indian Legislative Assembly and secretary of the Indian Trade Union Congress, appealing for the release of political prisoners in India, including Communists and labour leaders, who have declared in favour of unconditional support for the war on the basis of the alliance between Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and whether he will direct their immediate release in order to create a more favourable atmosphere for the considerations of the proposals carried by the Lord Privy Seal?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I do not appear to have received any recent appeal from Mr. Joshi for the release of political prisoners. In any case I doubt whether the situation in India would be improved by the release of persons who have attempted by violent methods to oppose the war effort or to compass the overthrow of the existing basis of society. I am unable to say how many trade unionists or students are included among the persons at present imprisoned or detained in India in consequence of action of that sort.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Did not the right hon. Gentleman receive a copy of the cablegram which I received from Mr. Joshi, and will he not agree that Mr. Joshi is a person of great industrial eminence in India and that his appeal should receive most sympathetic consideration?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

Has not this question of the release of prisoners been considered in connection with the visit to India of the Lord Privy Seal?

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is it not the case that all these people are in prison for fighting for the freedom of India, and would it not facilitate the task of the Lord Privy Seal if these fighters for Indian freedom were liberated?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

No, Sir, no one is imprisoned in India for fighting for the freedom of India. It is only if they urge violent methods in pursuit of their policy that they incur that danger.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is the Minister now saying that if they fight for freedom in India, they must fight in the way he wants them to or they will go to gaol?