Oral Answers to Questions — Sind (Outbreak of Violence).

– in the House of Commons on 4th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he will make a statement respecting recent events in Sind; whether any accusations are directed against members of the Provincial Assembly; and whether this Provincial Government retains its previous authority and power?

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

The recent outbreak of violence in Sind has been caused by the Hurs, a fanatical sect with a long history of violent crime in the Province and in the neighbouring State of Khairpur—so much so that they are scheduled under the relevant law as a "criminal tribe." Their criminal propensities are said to be due to their traditional customs of giving their whole property to their hereditary Chieftain known as the Pir Pagaro, and thus having no other livelihood than robbery. Military measures were necessitated early in the century to round up Hur strongholds, and it has been necessary at various times to place the present Pir under restraint. Most recently he was arrested last October and is now under detention outside the Province because of grave suspicion that he was continuing to instigate murders and other serious crimes committed by his followers, notably upon the persons of all those who gave evidence against him when he was last convicted. It was impossible to bring him to trial for his responsibility for these crimes owing to terrorisation of possible witnesses. In the past few months a number of his followers, no doubt in revenge for the action taken against their leader, have engaged in a series of outrages of which the most serious occurred on the 16th May, when a party of them derailed the Karachi-Lahore mail train and murdered and looted a number of passengers. The son of the Home Minister of Sind was one of those killed. Military measures which, in the considered view of the Provincial and Central authorities, are once more necessary to deal with those implicated in the outrages, are now in progress and a large area of the Province east of the Indus has been placed under martial law.

I am not aware of any accusation made against members of the Provincial Assembly in connection with these outrages. The attitude of the Sind Legislature to the situation is well indicated by their action a couple of months ago in passing, in secret session and with very little debate, a Bill conferring wide powers on Government for dealing with the situation—the "Sind Suppression of Hur Outrages Act." The powers and authority of the Sind Government have not been affected except of course in the area placed under martial law.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

May I take it from the Secretary of State that in fact the Huns have nothing to do with the existing political situation in Sind, and can he say whether the Provincial Government were consulted in the matter before this rather drastic action was taken?

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

Yes, Sir. The Provincial Government have acted with the Central Government throughout in this matter.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the first part of my question?

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman cannot answer the first part of my supplementary question?

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

This matter has nothing to do with the political situation in India.