Suppression of Disorder (Use of Aircraft)

Oral Answers to Questions — India – in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information respecting the aircraft machine-gunning of crowds in India and of attacks on aircraft crews; and whether any steps will be taken to prevent aircraft being used in India for the suppression of disorder?

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

I have nothing material to add to the official statements made in the Indian Legislature last week and reported here in the Press, to the effect that during the recent disturbances mobs were five times machine-gunned from the air, and that after an aeroplane crash which occurred on 18th September in Bihar in which the pilot was killed the crew of the aircraft were murdered by a mob. It was found necessary to use aircraft to check sabotage by mobs in areas in which the movement of troops on the ground was hampered both by widespread interruption of the railways and by exceptional flood conditions. The measures taken by the Government of India to restore order in circumstances, the seriousness of which is I think still imperfectly appreciated in this country, have my full support and I am not prepared to interfere with the Viceroy's discretion in this matter.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the justifiable condemnation of the air gunning of turbulent crowds which has taken place in parts of Europe, and that if aeroplanes were used to quieten crowds in this country there would be wholesale resentment in all parts of this House? In view of that, will he see that this form of——[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Alexander Sloan Mr Alexander Sloan , South Ayrshire

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Cannot you restrain Members from cheering when there is mention of bombing of Indian civilians?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I have not heard anything of the kind the hon. Member mentions.