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Political Prisoners And Detainees

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 20 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for India the approximate present number of prisoners for offences arising out of or in connection with political agitation; the total number of arrests or detentions during the past 12 months; the number discharged or released; the number of women arrested and now in detention; how many punishments by whipping have now been inflicted and how many of these were on youths under 18 years of age?

According to my latest information, which does not cover the North-West Frontier Province, the number of persons convicted of offences in connection with the Congress rebellion and undergoing imprisonment on 1st March was 23,071, and the number undergoing detention for an indefinite period was a little in excess of 8,000. The total numbers in either category for all Provinces from August until 15th March last were respectively 34,895 and 11,623. I have no reason to suppose there has been any substantial increase in the number of sentences of whippings which I gave in reply to the hon. Member's Question on 18th February. Separate statistics for the arrests of women and the whipping of youths under 18 are not available.

Will the right hon. Gentleman not inquire regarding the last matter? Can he say whether any steps are now being taken to stop this deplorable and medieval practice of whipping in India?

I do not accept the hon. Member's description Of this penalty, and I certainly could not get the information which he wants, involving different Provincial authorities, without a great deal of unnecessary trouble.

In view of the fact that the British Government are the one stabilising influence in India which enables many millions of our humble subjects to live in peace, does not the Minister think that the constant questions of the hon. Member are completely mischievous?

Has it been brought to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman that psychiatrists are of the opinion that whipping makes an individual anti-social?

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that a similar penalty in this country for a similar offence would be tolerated by any decent person in this House?