3RD SINDH PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
HELD AT LARKANA
SINDH PROVINACIL CONFERENCE
HELD AT LARKANA
The session of the third Sind Provincial Conference commenced at 8 a.m. today (April 21, 1916). The president was escorted to pandal by the volunteers and members of the reception committee. Among those on the dais were the Hon. Mr. Harchandrai Vishindas, Seth Lokamal Chellaram, and Messrs. Mathradas Ramchand, Gopaldas Jhamatmal and Chagla. About 800 were present.
After songs of welcome, Mr. Lalchand Navalrai, chairman of the reception committee, read out his welcome speech, the main points of which were as follows:-
Larkana can not lay claim to the pretensions of the two towns wherein the first and the second provincial conference were held, neither can it compare with the beauteous sights and river bank of Sukkur nor the ancient association of Hyderabad, the former metropolis of Sind. Its history goes so far back only as the reign of the Kalhoras. There exists to this day the ancient dome called the shrine of “Shah Baharo” situated on the North of the “Ghar” canal which reminds you of the architecture of those times. “Ghar canal” the northern boundary of the two proper is a navigable channel through which we carry our agriculture produce to, and hold commerce with several parts of Sind. The picturesque scenery on its bank and the shady groves of trees afford rest and relief to the wayfarers during the heat of the summer. Larkana shares with the rest of Upper Sind the extremes of heat and cold. But during the inundation season the strings of country craft which line the two sides of the canal present a very attractive spectacle and Larkana is well worth a holiday trip during the fruit season.
Once there flourished here the art of scene painting as can be witnessed in the Library building which is the handiwork of an old Sindhi painter. But it exists no more owing to the lack of encouragement. So also town market exhibits species of the old art of engraving on brass and alloyed metals.
Larkana is rightly described as the “Garden of Sind” the proof of which you find in the tall and shady trees scattered round about everywhere. They are conspicuous by their presence even in this pandal, providing you with shade and comfort. The south of the town presents to you a modern look with its red bricked dwellings which marks its latest growth owing to the town being raised to the dignity of the head quarters of a district and a seat of the district court.
You may be aware Gentlemen, that Larkana was once only a part of the Shikarpur District, afterwards renamed as Sukkur District, and has been only a few years back made into a separate self-contained district, thus gaining considerable in importance. It is expected that it will one day realize the long deferred hope of possessing a (Solemnly promised) Government High School.
The District as you all know is the most fertile area in Sind and therefore the principal exporting centre of agricultural produce through the port of Karachi abroad. Gentlemen, the great world war has made its effects felt here as elsewhere. The cramping of the agriculturist’s credit originally brought about by bank failures has been intensified by the disruption between capital and labor caused by the war. At the same time it must be recognized that conditions would have been hopelessly worse not only in this district but all over the British Empire, the entire trade would have been crippled and exports and imports come to a standstill had not the British Navy, with its traditions of invincibility, kept the seas clear and immune from the enemy’s devilish sea craft for which the world is exceedingly grateful. Let us therefore send forth our united and devout prayers that success may ultimately attend the arms of the allies who are fighting the cause of righteousness and justice for the protection of the weak against brute force.
Considering how the Indian National Congress has firmly stood its ground after so many vicissitudes, it would be superfluous to justify its existence and recount its manifold achievements. Provincial conference like this not only serve as feeders of the congress, but also are intended to deal with local and provincial question which for their multitude and variety would be too impracticable for discussion in the congress, which should confine itself to questions of all importance, whilst admitting that in getting local grievances redressed and local needs satisfied a good deal depends on the sympathetic attitude of the authorized, I may also be permitted to say that moderate and considerate methods and perseverance will go a long way towards accomplishment. To this and joint action by assemblies like the present conference is a great necessity. The justification for a separate conference for Sind can be described in no better terms than those of the President of the Sind Conference of 1908. He observed “you will thus realize that for its peculiar land tenure, agrarian conditions and special maladies like Rasai (to which I may be permitted to add the cursed dacoities), and more specially for its isolated position from the presidency proper, Sind is so circumstanced that it can not have its grievances adequately ventilated, if it were lumped together with the rest of the presidency in a provincial conference, where the interests of the whole presidency, would have to be taken into consideration.”
We are no doubt a part and parcel of the Bombay presidency but with the least intention to offend and with the utmost deference to the leaders in the presidency. I must say we are neglected part. Gentlemen, we are known there as people of the desert and little wonder that sunshine or rather moonshine in the open is the only thing they can spare for us. I am more sorry than any one else that we have not availed ourselves to the full of the benefits of our conferences and failed to follow the advice of our popular President of the Sind Provincial Conference of “1908 That the torch of patriotism lighted to-day might be kept burning for ever” He continued. “For I put you in the words of the strongest recommendation not to allow your energies to die out on the termination of this gathering but to continue holding such meetings year after year changing the venue according to circumstances and to enable all parts of the province to take their proper share”. It was good of Hyderabad, indeed to have kept loyal to this exhortation; Karachi went even farther by holding a session of the Indian National Congress in the year 1913. But we Shikarpur and Larkanaies have no defense for our remissness except the ordinary “Better late than never”.
The prophetic words of our late lamented R.S. Pessumal Zoukiram in his address as chairman of the reception Committee of the Sukkur conference have come to be true. Describing the relations between the two great communities of Sind the Hindus and Muhammadans “The two eyes of India” he observed “Education is spreading far and wide and the work of enlighten is spreading a pace. If but one indigenous Muhammadan of the purest ray serene rises amongst the Muhammadans they will soon be made to realize that we shall be one in heart and soul and act in union. Gentlemen, this is being realized in the present conference. You have before you the cream of the Muhammadan community of Sind shouldering the wheel side by side with their Hindu brethren. The new awakening is coming and the old relations of amity and accord are returning. We stand united on one platform on our way to the realization of our common destiny under the guidance of a leader whose singleness of purpose and public spirit have won for him the admiration of all communities in Sind. This, Gentlemen is the special feature of the present year’s conference. In this connection I must congratulate my friends Serai Shah Mahomed Lahori the General Secretary whose sincere exertions at all stages of preparation for this conference have been invaluable.
It should not be the province of this address to run through the entire catalogue of topics to be considered at this conference. That work more appropriately comes within the purview of the President Elect and the other speakers. But I shall not be trespassing upon the domain of those speakers if I touched upon some of the question that concerned my district.
Pax Britannica is the legitimate boast of the British rule in India. Ever since the establishment of that rule people of this country have regarded the protection of life and property as their most priceless heritage. But that protection as received a rude shock in the spirit of lawlessness and crime abroad in this district. People live in a constant state of terror and panic. Dacoits have torn the district from one end to the other. Turn to any direction and you hear the wail of the people that villains and vagabonds are let loose on us. The darkest feature of almost every dacoity is the burning of bannias account books. What may be the cause of all this? In the Sind conference of 1908 question came up for discussion. The crime was then in its infancy. Dacoities committed could be counted on one’s finger’s ends. Now they are beyond enumeration. The main cause then assigned was the increasing poverty of the agriculture classes and the absolute loss of their credit resulting in their resort to plunder rather than economic adjustments to satisfy their wants. Government was asked to appoint a mixed committee of officials and non-officials to determine the root cause of this diabolical crime and suggest measures for its extirpation. Nothing came of the request and thing have gone from bad to worse. Dacoits are known to say that of all crimes under the penal code the easiest to commit and the most difficult to detect is dacoity. You have only to wear garb of a wolf and lamb has to give way. The inefficiency and the corruption of the subordinate police and the lowering down of the standard of magisterial independence have contributed not a little to the permanence of this state of things. The covering attitude of the subordinate magistracy, their absolute dread of the police carrying tales to higher quarters of their refusal to regard themselves a check on police or a protection against their vagaries are some the main springs for this state of affairs. It serves the police to have their record of convictions kept up and it serves the magistrates to have no trouble with the police and there the matter ends. It is for Government to lay its fingers on the plague spot and administer the remedy. We can not make our cries sufficiently loud this monster of evil. The Arms Act places our people at disadvantages. Taught from their infancy to look upon arms as forbidden things intended only for the chosen and the elect, bannias have long since ceased to regard themselves as entitled to their use. A stray shot from a gun boy’s hands frightens them out of their wits. Arms intended for the benefits of the innocent and the honest are employed as instruments of oppression against them. It is only the respectable man who lacks arms. A villain has them by the score. The repeal of the Arms Act or its modifications enabling honest people to avail themselves of their protection is a question in the hands of the Congress. We shall let it be discussed and solved there. On the present platform we only ask that Government should undertake to familiarize the respectable classes of people living in outlying villages with the use of arms and fit them for defending themselves. Till this is accomplished, measures should be concerted to protect their person and property by the employment of additional police and the patrolling of important roads and thoroughfares. Some of you will be tempted to ask “But how many police patrols can be provided and after all to what good. Bannias have after all to be thrown on their own resources and left to fight out their own battle in moments of emergency. I concede the justice of this. I only urge that while on the one hand the process of training villagers in the art self defense should be kept in full swing, on the other hand the provision of adequate protection to safe guard them till they are able to safeguard themselves should not be neglected. Gentlemen, when bannias go to District officers for licenses for arms it is often amusing to know the answer flung at them. They are told in all earnestness that fire arms are dangerous things and will explode in their hands. They are also assured that they will be weapons in the hands of dacoits themselves. It is time that these excuses ceased. Men are men when they are taught and trained. Fire arms cease to explode of themselves and dacoits are kept at arm’s length from them when they are handled by men who know how to handle them. Able bodies respectable villagers are anxious to provide themselves with arms and use them for purpose of defense only if they be given freedom to possess them and opportunities to handle them. Is this too much for Government to allow? Is it too much for District officers to issue free licenses to decent people and provide them with means to learn the use of arms? A little effort put out in this direction will raise a host of voluntary workers anxious and able to stand out and save the situation.
I pass on the consideration of the Badmash chapter in the Criminal Procedure code as a subject cognate to the above. It is said to be our savior at the time of need. The stock argument always advanced is that where crime is freely committed the police should have a free hand in hauling up individuals as badmashes. The argument is all right when you have the might of the executive to manifest only once that is when you want momentary consternation to have a momentary effect. But when crime persists and you proceed to substitute amateur inferences for skillful investigation and arm your selves with powers continuously to punish for things which you can not prove, it is time to cry half. Gradually but with certainty you are sliding into the abyss of inefficiency and power in the hands of inefficient is worse than no power at all. This must stop. You know how many innocents are sacrificed at the alter of this chapter VIII every year. Lately the Commissioner in Sind issued orders limiting the operation of the chapter to individuals spotted by higher class police officers on personal investigation. The results show little improvement. Only the ostensible mover of the machinery is now different but the real mover is the identical Sub Inspector, his staff and his advisers. Patient and deliberate consideration leads only to one conviction viz that if the chapter is to stand, the police should have nothing to do with working it. The experiment would be worth trying to have a Taluka. Jigra headed by the Taluka magistrate to investigate and spot an individual as a badmash and then sent him up for trial. The present cry of the police to hound every one who in their view is obnoxious must cease. It is true that Jirga will in turn be subjected to insidious influences but combination of disinterested individuals as umpire from different place are most likely in the long run to outlive those influences. What is wanted is public opinion, educated and enlightened being brought to bear on the subject to clear the cobwebs of confusion and misapprehension. To sum up, embolden and train villagers to fight the dacoits, pending training, afford them adequate safeguards of increased police patrols, improve the efficiency of the police, withdraw the portentous power vested in them by chapter VIII Criminal procedure code, remind that wrong conviction is a most pernicious substitute for skillful investigation. Let the magistracy realize their responsibility and duty to the protector of the poor, and I assure you Gentlemen, nine tenths of the battle will have been won. Brethren you will pardon my dilating on this subject a little longer than would be permissible but the acute distress of this district in this regard is my only excuse for this tax on your patience.
The administration of justice on the civil side also needs attention. The cumbrous machinery is clogged and grinds slow. The draft on one’s time and purse is enormous. Some agency effective economical needs to be discovered to release the civil courts of a portion of their fighter works and have judges time to handle more important work. The revival of panchayat system is likely to be of use in this direction. The experiment is undertaken at Mardas. It might be undertaken in Sind. The village panchyat system is not yet extinct though with the growth of individualism it threatens to dissolve. In the present unorganized condition the panchayts are doing an amount of useful work. Given life, status and definite scope for action, their activities will be fruitful. The development of the principles of Local self Government proceeding now at a tardy pace will receive a marked impetus.
Our needs on the Revenue side of the administration are many. Ours is an agriculture district and agrarian problem need tackling. Our president elect has in hand some of the most important of these subjects vize the extension of the10 years terms of settlements, the abolition of the fallow rules, the revision of the remission rules and kindred matters. I will only touch on one matter viz the baneful practice of Rasai.
Rassai is yet rampant in Sind. we are rebuked that our Zamindars are responsible for it. While this is partly true. We can not say that this is the whole truth. The receivers are more responsible than the givers. The position of the givers is weak and they have an eye to their interests. The receivers have low paid agents who have of necessity to act as intermediaries. The vice still continuous as merrily as ever. Only lately after the Hyderabad scandal, the Commissioner in Sind issued a drastic circular enjoining all concerned to see the last of the thing, but human foibles have a knack of lingering. The thing shriveled and showed signs of decay but did not die at the root. With the next season it had more of life infused in it. We know that in some districts strenuous efforts were put forth by the District officers to grapple with the problem and the results achieved were hopeful. Unfortunately the disease is again showing signs of a relapse in some districts, but might be saved by timely action from above. The strain of times is making things unbearable and the hateful system needs to be stopped at all costs.
Brethren! I will not detain you longer with my address. Various other matters affecting the material prosperity of Sind and the advancement of its people, their manifold aims and aspirations will be the subject matter of deliberation by you all. Once again, I offer to you a cordial welcome to our own town and hope that your deliberations will lead to fruitful results and the general amelioration of our condition. Before I sit down, I must tender my warmest thanks to our worthy and saintly Collector Mr. Blathwayte for the readiness with which he has given us what help we have required of him. My thanks in a large measure are also due to my colleagues on the various committees especially Mr. Virusing Kimatsing who have spread no pains to make the arrangements as satisfactory as it has been possible for them to do. (The daily Gazatte, dated April 24, 1916 page 10)
The Hon. Mr. Harichandrai proposed Mr. Bhurgri to the chair in the following terms:-
“Mr. Bhurgri stands at the top of political life in Sind. he has been chiefly instrumental in bridging over the gulf between the two chief communities of Sind, Muhammadans and Hindus. He belongs to that band of great devoted patriots of the type of Messrs. Gokhale, Mazhar ul Haque and Jinnah who strenuously worked for bringing about a better understanding between these two communities. There stands a good deal more to his credit. First he was a zealous and devoted follower of the late Hon. Mr. Gokhale and loyally supported him in the imperial council in the cause of free compulsory education. In those days the opposition was too great and the measure for free compulsory education did not pass. Since then it has become evident that free compulsory education is necessary. Next the Hon. Mr. Bhurgri is always present at every meeting of the Bombay Legislative Council and there has been no occasion when he has not been ready with a suggestion, an amendment or a resolution during the last 8 years. His services for the improvement of the condition of the agricultural community have been great and the agriculturists have every reason to be thankful to the hon, gentlemen for his endeavors. He was chiefly instrumental in getting the appointment of the Commission for Settlement and it is hoped that the period of settlement will be increased to what extent it remains to be seen. In him I see the realization of the prophetic words of the late R.B. Pessumal Zoukiram who said “ I look forward to the time when the two communities, Hindus and Muhammadans, will join hands and met on a common platform”. Yesterday he was taunted with being pro-Hindu. That instead of being a reproach is, I, believe a recommendation. Another great and invaluable service that he can be credit with is that as a Zamindar and as a business man he has introduced many improvements in agriculture and thrift in the life of the Hari. The other Zamindars are lacking in that spirit. I firmly believe that in him we have a leader who deserves our utmost confidence”.
Mr. Lokamal Chellaram who seconded the resolution said:- “I second the proposal with the greatest pleasure, I invite all present to join me in requesting the Hon. Mr. Bhurgri to take the chair. In him we have a leader who is always foremost in the cause of public weal. I remember that when he joined the Congress at Karachi he was submitted to a most scathing attack by the English daily of Karachi; but when has that paper ever desired to see any eminent Indian doing anything for our country? I trust the representative of that paper is here and if he has not heard I shall repeat it for him that the Daily Gazette never wants any Indian to interest himself in the cause of India. But its attacks are worthless and fit to be thrown in the waste-paper basket. Hon. Mr. Bhurgri is one of those Indians who disregarding their comfort and ease, throwing their pleasure to the wind have taken upon themselves the arduous task of serving their country. He ranks with our great patriots, the late Sir P. M. Metha, Gokhale and Dadabhai Naoroji. India is passing through a most critical time, I mean the war. War is one of the greatest scourges that can be sent by divine displeasure to devastate this world. Yet at this terrible time India has an opportunity of showing the most devoted loyally. At such a critical time the barque of our affairs should be under the control of a skillful guide of the type of Mr. Bhurgri so that our work yields rich fruit. In selecting him as our president it is not we who honour him but in accepting it the confers an honour on us.”
Mr. Gopaldas Jhamatmal rising in support said:- “this pleasant task has been entrusted to me. I suppose because I hail from the same place as Hon. Mr. Bhurgri, I mean Hyderabad which he has made fragrant with good works. He is a barrister and had he cared to earn he could have easily enriched himself. It is true that he is rich, but there are few rich men who conquer their desire to accumulate more. It is his to this credit that he possesses no such desire. His work in the cause of Muhammadan education has been specially praiseworthy. Moreover he is a staunch Congressman having his opinion on truth and experience. We Hyderabadis have special reason to be grateful to him for his earnest endeavors to avert the disgrace of suspension of the Hyderabad Municipality. He sympathized with us in our sorrow then and I trust that he will shortly share our joy when we get this suspension removed. The Hon. Mr. Bhurgri is guided by the same motto as Mr. Mazhar ul Haque which is ‘An Indian first, and Indian next and an Indian afterwards in short nothing but an Indian.”
Seria Shah Muhammad Lahori rising in support said :”The Hon. Mr. Bhurgari is one of whom we Zamindars have every reason to feel highly proud. No Zamindar has as yet shown himself possessed of as lofty a purpose as he. He has served India loyalty in company with the great Gokhale and Sir Pheroze Shah Mehta. I have personal knowledge of his popularity and the esteem in which he is held. During the last few years I have traveled widely and in connection with my election matter. I have had go to every part of Sind and in these travels I have been struck with the influence his name has everywhere.”
Mr. Bhojsing:- “Though the Hon. Mr. Bhurgari is not known to me personally yet fame has blown wide enough for me to be aware of his good qualities and great abilities. When opinions were invited in the Press about the selection of a president, the unanimous choice fell upon Hon. Mr. Bhurgari, and I am convinced that it could not have fallen upon a worthier man. The reason of his unanimity of opinion is that as soon as he entered public life he honestly endeavoured to unite the Hindus and Muhammadans. Many difficulties must have crossed his path and at time he must have felt discouraged at the antagonistic attitude of many of his friends, but may it be said to his credit that he remained staunch to his purpose and proceeded unwavering on the path of duty. Time was when our officials even did not regard the idea of union with much favour, but now even our Government is ready and willing to help to bring about a better understanding between the two communities. This may be solely attributed to the Hon. Gentleman. In all the commissions and committees of inquiry appointed during the last few years in Sind or the Bombay Presidency. Mr. Bhurgri has had a hand. He was the father of the Muhannadan educational Cess bill which had to be withdrawn. Though he failed he has been end endeavoring his utmost in cause of Muhammadan education, and as a result of his efforts 36 male scholars are receiving education free of cost. He has interested the Government from the Viceroy down to the Commissioner in the cause of Moslem education. Beneficial results are bound to accrue therefrom.
Mulchand Pessumal, Kishendas and Abdul Aziz who followed said a few words eulogizing Mr. Bhurgri.
The proposal was put to the vote and unanimously carried. The Hon. Mr. Bhurgri took the chair amidst loud applause. He was garlanded.
Mr. Bhurgari commenced the proceedings by calling upon the secretary, Serai Shah Muhammad Lahori to read the letters and telegrams from some distinguished people who pleaded their inability to attended. A telegram from Mrs. Annie Besant and letters from Mr. Wacha, Mr. Gandhi, Mir Ayub Khan, Hon. Mr. Paranjpye, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtoolah and Dr. Dhalla were read. Hon. Mr. Mr. Paranjpye wrote “……… I send my best wishes for the conference. A complete network of conference is needed for political and educational progress. Sind which has been spoken of as being backward is doing well to hold a conference. These are signs of progress.”
The President read his speech.
Mr. Hafiz, bar-at-law, read some important passages from a Sindhi translation of the president’s speech.
The president declared that all proceeding would be in Sindhi.
A subjects committee was elected and the sitting of the conference adjourned to 5.30 p.m.
Later on the following business was transacted:-
Resolution No. 1. – “That this meeting records its deep sense of loyalty to the British Government and prays for its success in the present war” was moved from the chair and passed unanimously with all those present standing.
Resolution No.2 – “That this meeting records its deep sense of loss sustained by the community by the death of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and sir Pherozshah M. Mehta” it was moved from the chair and passed unanimously, all those present standing.
Hon. Mr. Harchandrai proposed --- “That this conference is strongly of the opinion that as the Government of a Governor in Council is more desirable than the Government of a single individual and as the reasons on account of which by Act V of 1868 the powers of a Governor and council were delegated to the Commissioner in Sind have disappeared and are non existence. Act V of 1868 be repealed and the Government of Sind carried on as in the rest of the Bombay Presidency.”
Hon. Mr. Harchandrai said:- “This is not the first time that this resolution has been put forth by me. The Bombay presidency is divided into four parts viz. the Southern Division, The Central Division, the Northern Division and Sind. the first three parts had Commissioners but they were not invested with the powers of a Governor in Council. It is only in Sind that the Commissioner enjoys such power. I will briefly tell you how the Commissioner came to have such powers. In 1843 when Sind was first conquered, Sir Charles Napier was appointed Governor. He left in 1847 and a Commissioner was appointed in his place that was invested with full powers, Revenue, Judicials. In 1868
When Mansfield was Commissioner, Act V of 1868 was passed. The reasons given by Government were that Sind was very distant from Bombay. The Sind Gazetteer has it that Sind was”……….. an uncivilized, unimproved place, difficult to get at and difficult to get away from.” Gentlemen these conditions do not hold good now. Railway communication has brought Sind considerably near to Bombay and with a direct line from Badin we would be nearer still. In spite of this, this Act continues in force entailing great hardship on us. Under a Governor in Council we will certainly be better off than we now are. No doubt some commissioners have been very good, but when the question lies between a civilian with the powers of a Governor on the one hand and a Governor in Council on the other, certainly the latter would be the better of the two. This question has been often considered, and a Governor in Council has been preferred. Moreover, Dharwar, Belgum and Ratnagiri are more distant than Sind. At the last Bombay Provincial Conference at Poona it was brought to the notice of the Government that better communication with Ratnagiri was urgently needed. These places are being governed directly by the Bombay Government and it is difficult to understand why it should be otherwise with Sind. Karachi has risen considerably in importance so much so that some thought it fit to be made the metropolis of India, and yet this important place should be under the control of a single individual is something hard to understand. It will be better if we are separated from Bombay than remain as we are and join Punjab as the President said in his speech”.
Mr. Gopaldas Jhamatmal while seconding Mr. Harchadrai said:- “By the preamble of Act V of 1868 it is provided that the Commissioner should be invested with only some powers of the Governor in Council, but in effect the Commissioner has been given virtually all the powers e.g. under the Bombay Police Act, under the Bombay Municipal Act, under the Civil and Criminal Procedure codes and also under the Defense of India Act. As a result the destinies of Sind are placed under the control of one single individual un helped by any Council. If remaining with Bombay was possible only on these terms then I for one would prefer to have Sind joined to the Punjab. At one time Act V of 1868 may have been necessary but the times are changed and now no such necessity exists. Sind has not got sufficient number of representatives in the Bombay Legislative Councils. As regard the Imperial Council we get the right of representation by turn. It seems as if the Minto – Morley reforms were never calculated to do us any good.”
(The Daily Gazette, Dated April 25, 1916 page No. 10)
Discussion was continued upon the motion proposed by the Hon. Mr. Harchandral Vishindas with regard to the desirability of government by a Governor in Council rather by a single individual and advocating the repeal of the Act whereby wide powers were delegated to the Commissioner in Sind.
Mr. Abdur Rahman said:- “It must have struck you as curious that three pleaders should be entrusted with his resolution. You must by no means presume that they are the only class aggrieved. All classes of people are much affected by the present system and the sooner it is removed the better. No doubt lawyers can understand better than any others the defects and beauties of any administrative system and they are the most competent to criticize it. On former occasions Indians have dwelt upon the necessity of governors and high officials of state possessing Parliamentary experience. That experience is desirable one, because the British Parliament is reputed to be the best and most efficient administrative body in the world, a body of which the British people are justly proud. It is presumed that one having Parliamentary experience must possess the highest administrative qualities. Sind is unfortunate in not being governed by one possessing the above qualities from Parliamentary experience. Another thing that strikes me as most ridiculous is that Sind should send its representative to the Bombay Legislative Council to advise a Governor on the government of Sind when he has little to do with that province, the actual government being in the hands of the Commissioner. The rule of a Governor in Council is a form of Government and no matter how able Commissioner we may have had, it is desirable that the rule of a single individual should cease. The president in his speech referred to Sind being joined to the Punjab. God keep us from that union! You all know the familiar proverb about Punjabis, and the benefits some Punjabi officers imported here have conferred on us are no secret from you. Next as to Baluchistan. The raids of Brohis have robbed us of our peace, and were we placed under the same government as those savage people. I have little hope for our future. We must remain joined to Bombay, because all our educational progress is due to our being a part of the Bombay Presidency. By a separation from Bombay our educational progress would be blocked, a result which should be avoided at all costs. The only thing we want is to be governed by the Governor in Council as the rest of the Presidency, and I hope that you will heartily join in passing this resolution.”
The president:- “Before I put this resolution to the vote I may tell you that a few days back, a high official of State was traveling with me. From him I learnt that the question of separating Sind from the Bombay Presidency and joining it either to the Punjab or to Baluchistan was receiving the serious consideration of the Government of India. As between the Punjab and Baluchistan the former would certainly be preferable.”
The resolution was unanimously carried.
Mr. Bhojsing moved the fourth resolution:-
“Whereas serious dacoities have created a panic in Sind, particularly in the Larkana district, this Conference desires to draw the attention of the Government and humbly suggests that a mixed committee of officials and non-officials be appointed which may investigate and find out means for preventing this form of crime.”
Mr. Bhojsing said: “This question has a special importance for Larkana, for the people of this district have suffered more than any other from these dacoities. It is not easy to lay one’s finger on their root causes, neither is this the fitting place to say what changes are required in administration to check this terrible crime. At present we think it fit to ask for the appointment of a committee of inquiry, and no more. In every civilized country it has been the duty of the police to maintain order and investigate crime. In this district, which has a very severe officer as District Superintendent of Police, commonly called the “Captain Sahib” whose honesty and energy can not be questioned, and when the police force is larger than in any other part of Sind, it is not easy to understand why dacoities should be such common occurrence. My experience of twenty years as lawyers has taught me, and Mr. Lal chand Navalria (chairman of the reception committee) agree with me, that dacoities are the most serious kind of crime. Murders are matters of the moment – sudden provocation, an ill-directed blow or drunkenness may well bring them about. But a dacoity is always premeditated, and causes great disturbance in the public peace. The D.S.P. is honest energetic and has been doing his utmost to check this crime, but without avail. Perhaps greater vigilance and honesty is required from the subordinate police and greater firmness on the part of the magistracy. I regret to say both are lacking. It is the business of the police to challan criminals. It is the duty of the magistrate to administer justice. If a magistrate sees no case against accused he must discharge him. It is also his business to expose the vagaries of the police. But a magistrate has the apprehension that he will displease his superior officers by discharging a police case, the result will necessarily be disastrous. Injustice will be done by just the person whose sacred duty to administer justice. The weakness of magistracy, the corruption of the subordinate police must be inquired into. The condition of the Zamindars is growing more and more wretched. It is well known by what means they are terrorized. All this has led an increase in crime, and a committee of inquiry is absolutely necessary. To a very great extent the remedy lies in the hands of the District Magistrate. You all know that some time back, when the cry against dacoities became loud and general, Mr. Hudson was as Collector. During the three months of his office peace to a great extent was restored. This is an instance of what a district magistrate can do. If a committee is appointed, as we hope it will be, the Zamindars should be given distantly to understand that no harm will befall them for stating their opinions freely and boldly before the committee. It will be well if government nominates some pleaders also on the committee for as between the people and Government they are not afraid of speaking out the truth. The pleaders and the Zamindars should be taken into confidence. Even those suspected under S. 110 Crime. Pro. Code should be consulted for this indeed is a serious question and Government ought to avail itself of information and suggestions from every possible quarter”.
Mr. Virusing, who seconded, said that he belonged to the district where dacoities were most rampant. He had been to several villages with cases before Mukhtiarkars, and his inquiries had made him fully aware of the terror under which the villagers live. The condition of the Banias was pitiable. Not a night passed but they had the constant dread of a visit from dacoits. Many people who could had left the villagers and gone to towns, leaving houses and lands behind them. The case of those who could not avail themselves of the expediency of shifting from villages could readily be imagined. These dacoits commenced in the year 1902. In 1906 there were 8 dacoities – in the first which occurred in Johi Taluka documents and books of account of Banias were destroyed. In the second, who took place in Kakar Taluka, the police was robbed of a rifle. In 1907 there were 10 dacoities. In 1908 there were three and one in 1911. In 1915 and 1916 there have been dacoities one after the other, in which rifles have been used with frequent loss of life. Some labor under the wrong impression that pleaders take pleasure in the increase of dacoities. It is not so. The pleaders are as ardently desirous as others that this sort of crime be put down. Let a committee be appointed to find out the causes and suggest measures.
Mr. Shumsoodin Balbul said that Government was not doing all that it could be stop these pernicious dacoities. The severest punishments have been inadequate to check the crime. It was necessary that the question should be carefully sifted by a committee of inquiry. The committee should not consist of officials only but non officials, men of character and trust, should be appointed and not mere Jo-hukums. He further suggested that it would be better if those dacoities were tried by Jirgash, which might be formed where none existed at present.
Mr. Jan Muhammad Juneejo, bar-at-law, said that two causes were generally attributed to these dacoities. First that the Zamindars were at the bottom of them, and second that the police were at the bottom. Twenty years ago the Zamindars were much respected by the Government officers and they commanded an influence of which they have not even a shadow at present. Day by the Zamindars were being thrust backwards, though they had more education now that formerly. This might be attributed to the police who have its eyes constantly on the pockets of the Zamindars, not infrequently threatening them with prosecutions under S. 110 of the Crim. Proc. Code or with deprivation of the privilege of carrying arms or getting a chair. The poor Zamindars by these means were easily black mailed and they did not mind paying hundreds of rupees to be left alone. The right of carrying a sword or getting a chair was much prized. A Zamindar did not mind bearing false testimony in police cases to secure these privileges (heavenly in his eyes). It could not be imagined how this class of people would have courage to encourage dacoities. That the police were corrupt and a veracious was an admitted fact. A committee of inquiry would certainly find out where the abuse lay and discover speedy means of checking the Dacoities.
The resolution was carried unanimously. (The Daily Gazette, dated April 26, 1916 page No. 10)
The fifth resolution discussed by the Sind Provincial Conference at Larkana was:-
“In view of the most unsatisfactory way in which Sec. 110 of the Criminal procedure Code has been used for challenging Badmashes, this Conference is of the opinion that the police should be deprived of that authority under S. 110 and instead the Mukhtiarkar be vested with those powers, and, further, a committee of non-officials be appointed (for each Taluka) to work with the Mukhtiarkar for the purpose of bringing badmashes to book”.
Mr. Santdas Magharam, moving the resolution, said that the Section had been often misused by the police. Some might criticize the pleaders who wanted dacoities to be checked and at the same time wished to deprive the police of those powers. But looking to the way in which that authority has been used by the police, and remembering the salutary principle of law that it is better that a hundred criminals go free rather than one innocent man to suffer, he urged those present to pass the resolution. Few of the real badmashes were ever brought to book. This Section was largely used to satisfy private enmity, to blackmail innocent people and in cases even to deprive poor Muhammadans of their lawfully wedded wives. He was engaged in a badmash case when he had freshly become a pleader, somewhere in Thar. At the Mukhtiarkar’s manzil he learnt that only a few away there was a regular settlement of criminals who committed thefts and dealt in stolen property which they sent off to Jaisalmere for disposal, getting in exchange stolen property to be disposed of in Sind. He learnt to his surprise that the members of the police there each received a fixed sum monthly. It was a hold statement to make but he made it, as the record of that would prove that that was the defence urged by the accused in that badmash case, a defense which substantiated by poor. The police officer had asked for a bribe of Rs. 300 which the accused refused to give. It would be better it Chapter 8 of the Criminal Procedure Code disappeared altogether. But if the existence of the chapter were deemed necessary the Mukhtiarkars should be given power, which they should use only in consultation with the committee of non-officials.
Rais Abdullah Khan Tunio seconded, agreeing with Mr. Santdas on every point. The present state of affairs was intolerable and if power is given to the Mukhtiarkars with a committee of non officials to help them, it was hoped that considerable improvement would be effected.
The resolution was carried unanimously.
Serai Shah Muhammad Lahori moved the following resolution:- “While thanking those officers who have endeavored to stop the pernicious system of Rasai, this Conference expresses its disappointment at the continuance of this system, inflicting great hardship on the Zamindars, and strongly recommends that the touring period of officials in all departments and the strength of their establishments should be decreased. Also contractors should be appointed from the headquarter of each Taluka to supply provisions to the officers in the Taluka, and revenue officials and their subordinates should cease to have anything to do with the matter of supplying provisions”. He said that the condition of the Zamindars was no secret from anybody. All were aware of the dread and fear which the Zamindars entertained during the touring season. It was the business of the district officers to allay their grievances. The circulars of the commissioner regarding Rasai had produced no perceptible result; on the contrary the rule had gone up from 1 to 1 ½ annas to 2 to 2 ½ annas. The Zamindars were given contracts, but they did not know how to recover the money, neither had they been taught how to use the Bania’s
Balance in weighting provisions. There should be contractors well versed in these affairs. As regards the benefits derived from the tours of district officers the least said the better. No one would regret the total stopping of tours, which should at least be curtailed and confined to Taluka headquarters, just as Col. Alfred Mayhew, a very popular officer, used to do. Those gentlemen never moved outside the district headquarters with more than two or three servants, and never gave more trouble to the Zamindars than he could possibly help. The Tapedar’s lapa was also a serious burden on the Zamindars. The only means he could think of to stop it was that the Tapedar, like the Zaildar in the Punjab, should be appointed from one of the Zamindars of the Taluka to collect rent and hand it in to the treasury, or in the alternative the Zamindars should be given free postal money orders to enable them to send in their revenue assessment free of cost direct to the treasury without having anything to do with the Tapedar. The farce of going and saying to the Mukhtiarkar that the Tapedar has taken no lapo was still more annoying. There was absolutely no sense in that procedure, Rasai had sucked the blood of the Zamindars dry, and the Government ought to adopt the suggestion of the resolution put into practice for the sake of the Zamindars.
Mr. Madhoods, of Garhi Yasin, who seconded the resolutions, gave a practical illustration from his personal experience. There being some difference of opinion between the sub-inspector of police of his Taluka and himself, the Collector thought it necessary to visit Mr. Madhoodas’s lands to make personal local investigation. Mr. Madhoods had got a particular spot cleared for the Collector’s camp, but the peons would not pitch the tent there. Another spot was selected which was got ready. The peons wanted bukhsheesh which Madhoodas declined to give. Thereupon began his troubles. Milk jar after jar was spoiled by the peons and Mr. Madhoodas finally ordered all the cattle in his village to be taken to the Collector’s camp to be milked under personal supervision. Then it was that peons were brought their sense. The Collector came to know of his peon’s mischief and expressed his regret to Mr. Madhoodas’s. The matter was decided in Mr. Madhoodas’s favour. But such officers were rare. Had there been any other officer but the one actually there Mr. Madhoodas’s position would have been critical indeed. The evils of Rasai were manifold and should be stopped by all possible means, so that Zamindars may be ably to breathe freely.
The resolution was unanimously carried.
On the proceedings being resumed upon the second day the president moved the following resolution:- “That this Conference sends hearty congratulations to the All India Congress Committee and the Moslem League which are meeting at Allahabad to day and sincerely prays for the success of the resolution of self government for India, which these two association have to consider and pass. The president is request to wire this resolution to them at Allahabad”.
On being put to the vote the resolution was unanimously carried.
The next resolution was also moved from the chair on the question of allowing Indians to be volunteers and giving them Commissions in the army and navy. It also was unanimously carried.
Mr. Mathrades moved that this Conference is of the opinion that the time has arrived when according to the Congress rules c1. 1, steps should be taken for advancing local self-government i.e. reforms should be introduced in the administration of the country so to as give a greater control to the people e.g.
(a) Provincial autonomy along with financial autonomy.
(b) Legislative councils should be so increased and reformed as to properly represent all classes of people, and they should have greater control over the executive councils.
(c) The present executive councils should be reformed and provinces not possessing executive councils should be given executive councils.
(d) The India Council should either be abolished or reformed.
(e) Provinces not possessing legislative councils should be given legislative councils.
(f) The relative position of the Secretary of state and the Government of India should be definitely determined.
(g) Local self-government should be more encouraged than it has been up to now.
Mr. Mathradas said that the resolution was one which had received considerable attention at the last Congress, where it was duly passed. India had rendered great service to the Empire during the present Armageddon which had been appreciated throughout the world. There was talk of the change of the angle of vision and expectations ran high that political reforms of a far-reaching character would be introduced in India after the war. India wanted nothing more than what had been given to Ireland and the colonies and that was self-government within the Empire under the suzerainty of Great Britain. The resolution had met with the approval of the Moslem League, and at Allahabad the All India Congress Committee and the Moslem League had met to prepare a scheme. The function of the conference was not to do that but only to make suggestions. The resolution was divided into seven parts. The first concerned financial autonomy. It was anomalous that those who paid the taxes should have no voice in the deliberations of those who spent the money. The principle “no taxation without representation” should be followed. The people should know how the public funds were spent. The second part was about Legislative Councils. As constituted at present Legislative are hardly representative. Officials and nominated members always outnumbered the elected members so that the elected members had not the hardest chance of carrying any proposal. There should be a larger number of elected members; otherwise the people would never have any control. As to executive councils, it was true that one Indian was appointed on each executive council, but the selection had generally been of a man of no abilities, a more statue like sort of person who did no work and had not the capacity to do any. India did not want more figure heads to represent it. That was no representation whatever. Persons who commanded the confidence and trust of the people by their high abilities and independent character were alone worthy of filling such placed. Moreover there should be two Indians instead of one, on each executive council and where executive councils do not exist it was desirable that they should be created. Next as regards the India complaints about that body. It seemed to be a great hindrance in the way of political reform in India. It consisted of retired civilians who had remained in India for 15 years or more, and only two Indians. It was time that the Council, if not altogether abolished were at least considerably reformed. Next, Sind was not the only province without a legislative council; there were others where legislative councils should be brought into being. The position of the Secretary of State was included in the question of the India Council. The last part of the resolution dealt with local self government. The condition of municipalities and local boards was known. There should be more municipalities, which might afford a training ground for self-government. Suspension as of the Hyderabad Municipality, were measure which deprived the people of an opportunity of training themselves. No doubt faults would occur, but it must be remembered that experience teaches and in the end all would come right. Public spirit was inculcated by the presence of public bodies and not by their absence. Local self government in the form of municipalities should be greatly encouraged. Local boards should be given wider powers and freed of official control. Virtually the district officer did everything in the local board. The other members merely bowed to his will. Another
strange thing about local boards was that the Deputy Collector, who was the vice president, was also secretary. He held two conflicting posts, one as master and another as servant. If things went on thus there would be no improvement even in a thousand years. In the report of the Local Boards committee to be published soon, it was to be hoped that something would be done to mend matters.
Mr. Virumal Begraj of Sukkur, who seconded, was unsparing in his denunciation of so called public leaders who looked more to self interest than to the public good and who made a football of their country to be tossed about here and there at their wills. Talking about the Huzur Deputy Collector he reminded them of the Sukkur Municipality in which a Huzur Deputy Collector had been elected chairman of the managing committee of that Municipality. He said that the Congress had harped for thirty years. On that string i.e. the grant of self government to India. The Indian and British press had cried itself hoarse. All the great Indian leaders Dadhabhai Naoroji (Cheers) Gokhale, (Cheers), Sir Pherozeshah Mehta (loud cheers) and others had demanded self-government in unmistakable terms. John Bright, the great Englishman, had declared India worthy of self government. Indians were often told that they were not yet fit for it. If India had not become fit after 150 years of British rule whose was the fault? Look to Japan. See what immense strides she has made within fifty years. In what way were Indians inferior to the Japanese? Man by nature was born to be free. Each strove for freedom and there was no crime in asking for self government. There was no question of separating from the British, or driving them out. India wanted self government within the empire; R.C. Dutt had shown in his book how India suffered in trade. If India had self government it would immediately stop that. In this war Indians had shed blood and treasure on the battlefields of France. They considered it a duty to stand by England in the hour of her severe trial and had been unstinting in their sacrifices. Did not such loyalty deserve greater trust from our rules? Indians should have greater control in the Secretary of State for India’s Council; they should have a greater control in the budget; and a greater control in the Railways, where the Europeans enjoyed privileges altogether denied to the sons of India. In this country a dacoit could wield arms while an honest man could not. Many Indians had been interned under the Defence of India Act. These anomalies would disappear were India given self government. Liberty and the prosperity of India should be the motto of each Indian, and to realize these, Self-government was essential.(The Daily Gazette, dated 27th April 1916,p.p.4&5)
In continuation of the discussion at the Sind Provincial Conference at Larkana on the self Government resolution Mr. Shah Nawaz Pirzada, B.A. , said the resolution meant
Nothing more than asking for gradual progress to the goal of self government for India, on the same lines as the colonies has it, within the Empire. The interests of India would continue to be bound up with those of England, Self government did not mean severance of interests, as could be seen from the example of the colonies, which though self governed had rallied round the Union Jack in Great War. India wanted self government not of the type advocated by Bepin Chandra Pal and Aravindo Ghose, but on the lines advocated by Dadabhai Naoroji. Self government could be had by respectfully asking for it from Government and not by fighting. The argument that Indians were not yet fit for it and that they required time was one not worthy of consideration. That argument could be advanced for ever if India continued as it was. Serious attempts should be made to train Indians by giving them opportunities to manage their local affairs. They would never be fit if no opportunities were given them. It might be asked what Indians want self government for. All high posts were denied to Indians. However able and clever they be, their ambition could not rise to being more than subordinates. No Indian could ever aspire to be a Wellington or a Ghatham or a Pitt, over and above all these considerations of monetary gain there was the predominant consideration of national prestige. Indians must be able to hold up their heads. Gokhale had said “The tallest of us must bow down to the exigencies of time …..” That must cease. Muhammadans might think that they would not gain by self government, and some self interested persons had been telling them all government would be in the hands of Hindus and they would be driven out of India, as the Moors were from Spain. Let the Muhammadans be disabused of that mischievous impression. Indian history had it that during the days of Muhammadan rule, Hindus held very high posts in the army and in other departments of state. Jaswant Singh, a Rajput, held the post of Governor of Kabul, a place peopled solely by Muhammadans. Even during present times Muhammadan states had had Hindu prime ministers. For example Hyderabad Deccan. Thanks to education, the spirit of bigotry was disappearing. Those who had studied the Hindu religion, not with the object of criticizing but with the object of gaining knowledge about it, had found Hinduism an excellent religion. The difference of religion, of which so much advantage was being taken by selfish persons, was due to sheer ignorance. With the increase of education it would disappear, and Hindus and Muhammadans would be benefited in equal degree by self-government for India within the Empire. There was no desire on the of India to separate itself from England. Indians owed a very great deal to England. Education and advanced ideas had been given by England. The Conference pandal contained a motto “Deserve and then Desire”. If the motto meant that Indians did not deserve it was a bad motto Indians deserved, and this childish motto should be discarded. The late Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, Premier of Great Britain, had said that any kind of self government was better than any other rule, Indians should not be afraid of mistakes in the beginning. They could be rectified with increased experience.
Mr. Shersing said that the ancient history of India showed that the Hindus had a very superior civilization. The vicissitudes of fortune had played strangely with the destinies of India, and for a long time it remained under foreign domination. It was a matter of joy that now they were governed by the British and that British statesmen, such as Lord Ripon, had thought of educating and training Indians for a greater share in their government, Municipalities were instituted in India solely with that object. The time had now come when Hindus and Muhammadans should unitedly ask for self government.
The resolution was carried unanimously.
Elected Representatives on Municipal Boards.
Mr. Virusing moved: “ That this conference is of the opinion that Larkana and Rohri should be given the right of electing their representatives on the municipal boards without the least delay and that the same right should be given to towns possessing a population of 5,000 or over, so that the people may be trained for self government. He said that before the people got self government, it concerned them more nearly to get local self government in the form of elected municipalities. Larkana asked for no special favour. It made a legitimate demand, to which it was legally and morally entitled according to the District Municipal Act, which lay down that towns having a population of 3,500 or over should have the right of electing their municipal councilors. Larkana had a population of 16,000. The District Municipal Act further required that for every 1,000 people there should be 20 voters. For 16,000, 320 voters would be necessary, but Larkana had three times that number. All the necessary elements for qualifying Larkana to elect its municipal councilors were there. There could be no reason why the right should be deferred. The present state had continued since 1885 without any change. Form 1885 to the present day the people of Larkana had progressed considerably in education, commerce and other walks of life. The place had been thought fit for having the honour of holding a conference. Neither could the people of Larkana be accused of indifference and laziness in asking for their rights. They had sent petitions which remained unanswered. They had agitated in the press. The only result so for had been that the Government invited the opinion of the existing Municipality which as a matter of course was averse to the granting of the franchise (cries of “shame”). A meeting was then held and the question thoroughly discussed. Some of the municipal councilors were converted and brought over to the side of those who favoured election. The Commissioner was interviewed, and said that the Larkana people were inviting discord but he would consider. No result had been announced of that consideration yet. As regards quarrels, were the framers of the Act so much wanting in foresight that they did not anticipate what would happen in the beginning? Nothing had been provided in the Act that where there was a likelihood of quarrels, the franchise should not be given. That argument had no substance. Quarrels engendered healthy public opinion, Larkana had waited long. When would Larkana get this right? Would it be for the next generation?
Mr. Tulsidas, of Rohri, said that the complaint of Rohri was similar to that of Larkana. The people had lived in constant hope which had remained unrealized. A elected municipality was the first step to self government. The members of the Bombay Legislative Council there present should move in the matter and urge government to confer this long deferred privilege on Larkana and Rohri. Rohri had made immense strides. It was next to Hyderabad in education and the first in industry in Sind. It possessed a mill manufactured silk, which had a demand throughout India to such an extent that the mill could not supply the cloth in sufficient quantity. It might be that Larkana, having a larger population was standing in the way of Rohri. Let them both have the cherished privilege as soon as possible.
Mr. Pessumal Tarachand declared that Larkana had considerably risen in importance inasmuch as it was a district town and possessed a District Court. They should ask again till they get the municipal franchise.
Mr. Jethmal Parsram said that the congress ideal was to attain self government. It might be that people were selfish and in municipalities looked to their own gain more than to that of the public. But this was because the people had few privileges. Had they more a strong public opinion would be created and the leaders kept under proper control. Moreover, the presence of the official and nominated element was a serious hindrance in the way of municipal work. Just as an army was split into two by a wedge and its power of co-operation taken away to the utter destruction of the whole so did this undesirable element act in the municipality. It was a wedge between two parties preventing them from co-operation and doing useful work. That was why the municipalities had not succeeded so well as they ought. Hyderabad was not to blame. Municipalities should consist of elected members.
This resolution was also unanimously carried.
Mr. Rijhumal Isardas moved: “that this conference request the Government to repeal (1) the rule which empowers government to take into possession any survey number of agricultural land which has remained uncultivated for four years unless assessment under fallow rules is paid (2) those sections of the Land Revenue Code and rules farmed in accordance therewith by which government is empowered to refuse to give back such survey number to the original occupant or to put such conditions of fixed period or restricted tenure as government thinks fit in case it allows the original occupant to take the holding”. He remarked that the British had continued the Moghul system of land revenue. The means of collecting land revenue were not then fixed and in default of payment the Moghul rulers used to deprive the occupants of land. The British Government seemed to be of the opinion that the land belonged to government and it could impose any condition it liked. That position was fallacious. The means of collecting revenue had been fixed, and the government had wide means of recovering it. Under these conditions the present system required to be modified. Fallow rules applied to Sind only, where the ryotwari tenure, as in the Bombay Presidency had been wrongly brought in force. In Sind the lands were in the hands of big Zamindars and their tenure was quite distinct from that which prevailed in the rest of the Bombay Presidency. Sind is depended on irrigation. The fallow rules deemed to have been framed with a view to prevent laziness on the part of the Zamindars. But as a matter of fact no Zamindars in these days of keen competition and struggle for existence want only forsook any survey number. Survey numbers which remained uncultivated for five years remained so through no fault of the Zamindars, but on account of the dearth of water. In these circumstances the rule worked very harshly on the Zamindars and government would win ever lasting gratitude if this great hardship were removed. Next as regards the government refusing the land to the original occupant. Proprietary rights of occupants had been recognized in many decisions of the Bombay High Court. It was but fitting that the government should formally recognize those judicial decisions and declare its rights in accordance therewith.
Mr. Shumsuddin seconding drew the attention of the audience to the ways of the P.W.D. and the insufficiency of water. He cited the instance of Western Nara which had been silted up to the extent of ten feet in height. When there was only one foot of water the indicator showed II feet. Only those survey numbers remained uncultivated which could not be supplied with water. It was the bounden duty of government to supply water and when it failed the Zamindars should not be made to suffer. Fallow rules should be applicable, if at all, to those lands which had been cultivated continually for last ten years and not those which have never seen water.
Rais Abdullah Khan Tunio cited the instance of the Ghar Canal, which used to be 23 to 24 ft. board and which was only 12 to 13ft. board at present. Fallow rules were a real hardship on the zamindars and required to be repealed. Also the proprietary rights of the zamindars should be recognized by government.
The resolution was unanimously carried. (The Daily Gazette dated April 28, 1916 Page 10)
Mr. Naraindas moved: “That this conference is of the opinion that the rules as regards the remission of revenue, though be speaking the best intentions of Government, have been found bad in principle as well as practice, and therefore this conference recommends that (a) at the time of recommending remission the total produce should be taken into consideration and not the area under cultivation; (b) For the purpose of remission, there should be a fixed time for the inspection of crop so that the Zamindars may be able to have the fullest advantage and if the crops are not inspected within that time the Zamindars may be taken to have received the permission of reaping the crop; (c) Remission should be granted liberally, and at times when there is a general failure of crops, general remission might be granted without inspecting any survey numbers”. Mr. Naraindas said that under the present system remission could be had only with the greatest difficulty. At the time the first revenue survey was made and the assessment on each survey number was fixed the legislature had in view the granting of liberal remission in proper cases. That was the only reason why the assessment was so heavy in Sind. But those good intentions of the Government had not been put into practice. Many technical difficulties existed in the granting of remission, for example, if a Zamindar cultivated less than 100 survey numbers he could not get remission. Moreover, the revenue officers could revoke remission on the lightest pretexts. The remotest suspicion that the crops had been touched had been held as sufficient reason to revoke remission. Moreover, the Zamindars could not reap their crops they were inspected. The Mukhtiarkar often had to deal with 1,000 to 1,500 applications for remission each, and it often happened that many Zamindars were forced either to forge remission or their crop, it being impossible for their Mukhtiarkar to inspect the crops in time for harvesting. Further the Mukhtiarkar had grown very timid in the granting of remission. The collectors were very suspicious and as a result great hardships result on Zamindars in many cases. It would be better if Government appointed special officers for the purposes of remission.
Kazi Abdul Karim, who seconded, urged the desirability of fixing a period for the inspection of crops for the purpose of remission.
The resolution was unanimously carried.
Mr. Gopaldas Jhamatmal moved: “That this conference, while thanking the Government for appointing a commission to consider the question of the period of settlement in Sind, emphatically prays the Government to increase the period of settlement from ten to thirty years at least also fixes a maximum of assessment for the benefit and well being of the Zamindars of Sind”. he said that this question vitally concerned the people of Sind, as agriculture was their chief occupation. The condition of Zamindars of Sind was unenviable and was growing sadder day by day. They were immersed in debt, and the haris were starving and getting poorer and poorer as time went on. The existing rate of assessment was heavy, and left only a bare sustenance to the Zamindars. In Greece, Persia and China the Government did not get more than one sixth of the total agriculture produce. There was a time when in India the share of the Government was no more than one twelfth. Justice required that a maximum rate of assessment should be fixed by Government, beyond which it should not go. Next as regards the period of settlement, Sec. 102 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code allowed a period of thirty years only. The longer the period of settlement the better it would be. To ask for more than thirty years as the period of settlement would properly be a matter for the Congress to consider. He confined himself to asking for a period of thirty years only. It was rumored that as a result of the Settlement Commission, Government would increase the period from ten years to twenty years, but he hoped the Government would do better than that.
Mr. Rijhumal Isardas, seconding, said that the short period of settlement was highly unsatisfactory. It was based on the theory of unearned increment and the Government acted upon it very strictly. The doctrine of unearned increments was a matter of controversy between economists of the greatest repute. In the interests of the people it was desirable that the period of settlement should be as long as possible.
This resolution was carried unanimously.(The Daily Gazette, dated 29thApril 1916, page 10)
Mr. Hashmatri L. Chablani moved: “This Conference draws the attention of the Chancellor of the University of Bombay to the inadequate representation of Sind on the Senate of the University of Bombay and requests that the claims of Sind be satisfied by nominating a sufficient number of Fellows from Sind on the University Senate”. He said that Sind had long had cause to complain about the step child treatment it had been getting from the Government. The same complaint could be made with greater reason as regards representation on the senate of the Bombay University. The Governor, who was the Chancellor, had the right to nominate eighty Fellows and up till now one man from Sind had been nominated and he was a European and an official. Sind could boast of a sufficiently large number of educated persons to claim right of greater presentation. Sind formed one fourth of the Presidency and was clearly entitled to have twenty Sindhis nominated as Fellows. The Senate determined the lines on which education should proceed throughout the Presidency and it was intolerable that Sind should have no voice in it.
Mr. Kishendas said that unfortunately Sindhi graduates did not themselves registered though they were entitled to do so. If there were many Sindhi registered graduates they could elect a representative, but till then Government should be approached to nominate some Sindhis. Sind had one college and it was hoped that there would be two more colleges shortly. Sind possessed 12 high schools, and primary education had made great strides during the past few years.
The resolution was unanimously carried.
Mr. Tulsidas moved: “Whereas the quantity of water in the Indus has not been sufficient of late, this Conference is of the opinion that the project about the Sukkur Barrage and Rohri canal should be immediately taken in hand and until then no fresh canals should be allowed to be dug from the Indus in the Punjab”. He said that the question of water possessed special importance for Sind, relying as it did mostly on agriculture. The Punjab had been taking away a good deal of water during the past ten years. Formerly the water level used to be 5ft. 3 in at Bukkur. Now it was 3ft. only, and it was feared that even that level would not be maintained, as the Punjab government were projecting fresh canals. The Punjab ought not be allowed to thrive at the cost of Sind.
Wadero Sahib Khan said that the Zamindars had complained before. A durbar was held in which Government promised to approach the Punjab Government and settle the question once for all. The Collector of Sukkur,too,had been promising to move in the matter,but all these promises had no result.
The resolution was passed unanimously.
WATER SUPPLY FOR AGRICULTURE
Mr. Mathradas moved: “Whereas the present policy of the Government as regards the supply of water to agriculture lands, especially the narrowing of many water courses and the insufficient clearing of canals, has caused serious loss to Zamindars, this Conference humbly requests the Government to adopt speedy means of removing this hardship”. He said that the Government laboured under the impression that water was being wasted and that it should be economized so that new canals might be dug. On account of that old canals were being narrowed, the Bagari Canal being the first so dealt with. After complaints a committee of inquiry was held which resulted in partial restoration of the old water course. The Fuleli canal was now being similarly narrowed. The narrowing of canals was against public policy, and the P.W.D. had no right to narrow canals which had existed since the days of Kalhoras, long before the advent of the British. Moreover the Engineering Department refused to supply more water than was sufficient for cultivating one third of the land any Zamindars, on the ground that no Zamindar was entitled to cultivate more than one third. This was an infringement of the Zamindar’s rights, who was surely entitled to cultivate his whole land. If he did not, he became liable under the Fallow rules. At present a test case was pending in which the P.W.D. had taken up the above position. Beyond doubt the Government did not favour rice cultivation and hence the restriction about water, a policy which was causing much the discontent. The Conference ought to bring it to the notice of the Government so that the suffering of the Zamindars might cease. Moreover the revenue assessment includes the water assessment, the latter forming a substantial portion of the former.
Mr. Jotumal, seconding, compared Sind to the Punjab, dwelling upon the prosperity of the latter and the poverty of the former. The collector, Mr. Sale, when asked about the cause of this difference said that the Punjabis were very particular to meet and ask for what they wanted while the Sindhis quietly let things go. Time was when the Ghar canal used to be flushed with water to the extent of 15 feet in level. Now the water level was hardly 8 feet, with the result that lands having rich rice cultivation could not grow even Bajri or grass for cattle. Rich Zamindars had been made poor, some had been forced to become haris themselves, many had been made to leave their to become haris themselves, many had been made to leave their lands altogether. The lands on the Upper Ghar Canal had suffered the most and strange to say though reduced from Class 1 to
Class II, the assessment on them had been increased. Government records showed that cultivation had decreased 70%.
Mr. Joonejo supported the resolution which was passed unanimously.
Mr. Mathradas moved: “This Conference is of the opinion that trees on private canals should be declared to be the property of the persons owing the private canals without any right of interference on the part of government and that the present attitude of government as regards the right to such trees is improper”. He expressed the opinion that as the people had the right to the land through which the canals passed they obviously had the right to the trees growing thereon. He had been prosecuted for felling trees on his private canal but he got off by proving with the help of a circular of a former Commissioner that he was entitled to take the trees of his own use. He further said that the Tapedar and their kotars often troubled Zamindars and threatened to prosecute them for cutting these trees. A definite declaration and recognition of the Zamindars rights would put an end to a good deal of trouble and annoyance. He further cited a letter from Mr. Giles, Commissioner is Sind, dated 3rd May, 1882, which purported to recognize the Zamindars right to trees.
Mr. Mulchand Pessumal said that the position taken up by the Government was inexplicable. The right was first asserted some years back, but in a suit which followed, the judgment of Mr. Dayaram Gidumal, the judge, laid down in clear terms that the Zamindars were entitled to the trees.
The resolution was unanimously passed.
Mr. Virumal Begraj moved: “This Conference is in favour of Swadeshi and asks all the people of Sind to support the movement by encouraging local arts and industries and using Indian made things, in preference to foreign things even at in reused cost”.
He said that there was a time when India was very prosperous but now the sun of prosperity shine over Japan. To bring back prosperity to the country it was necessary to encourage native industries. The trade figures showed that foreign cloth worth 124 crores of rupees was yearly imported into India and only 68 crores worth of raw material was exported, to be brought back to India and sold at ten times the first value after undergoing transformation in Europe. By buying foreign cloth money was being sent out of India; by
The encouragement of Swadeshi goods the money would remain in India. What did it matter, therefore if Indians paid more for Indian goods than for foreign? To check the growing poverty of India the only means was the encouragement of Swadeshi. Indians should cease to be slaves of fashion and help their own industries, and should also ask the Government for help. Japan had progressed so rapidly only with State help. Fortunately at Shikarpur and Rohri cloth mills had been started and they ought to be helped as much as possible.
Dr. Choithram said that when America separated from England, there were no local industries. Felt was the only cloth manufactured, but the Americans in their great love of Swadeshi wore only felt and no other kind of cloth. Indians should show a similar spirit. Comparing statistics one was struck with the fact that while in England the yearly income per man was Rs. 600, in India it was only Rs. 15. India possessed no industries worth name, as former industries had disappeared. The absence of industrial education and the taxation on local manufactures made it impossible as was being done in Japan.
The resolution was unanimously passed.
The following resolution was moved by the Hon. Mr. Bhurgri from the chair and carried unanimously:- “This conference resolve that a Congress Committee be formed for the province of Sind which may transact all business concerning Congress matters and may also arrange for Sind Provincial or District Conference. Further another committee of the following gentlemen :- Messrs. Harchandrai, Jamshed N.R. Mehta, Gopaldas Jhamatmal, Hashmatrai L. Chablani, Virumal Begraj, Mulchand Pessumal, Virusing Himatsing, Shah Mahomed Lahori and Mr. Pirzada, with Mr. Jairamdas Doulatram as secretary, be formed which may frame the aims and objects of the Sind Congress Committee and the Sind Provincial Conference and send the same for approval to each District Congress Committee in Sind by August 1, 1916, to be subsequently presented for discussion in the subjects committee of the next Sind Provincial Conference.
Mr. Hafiz moved: “The Arms Act 11 of 1878 which had placed the people of this country under a disability resulting in intolerable hardship is repealed”.
The Hon. Mr. Harchandrai moved an amendment that with the exception of the section prohibiting manufacture of powder, cartridges and arms, the Act be repealed.
Mr. Hafiz accepting the amendment said that from time immemorial every community has possessed the right to project itself and maintain a military class. The nation which did not possess a military class could not exist. It was soon conquered and enslaved. India was no ordinary country. It has produced some of the greatest heroes and warriors in history and even at the present day it possessed many warlike tribes. During the present war Indian soldiers have elicited the admiration of the whole world by their conspicuous bravery in the field. Yet in India there is quite a large number of people who had never seen a gun or a sword, and who would be frightened to death by the sound of a gunshot or the glitter of a sabre. Had Indians been trained to the use of arms the present war would have been already over. India wanted to be a worthy asset of the Empire.
Mr. Lokal Chellaram, who followed, said that the present resolution was indissolubly connected with that of self-government. Indians could not be worthy of self government until they could lay claim to a certain degree of manhood. Indians could not be called men until they were able to guard themselves and their dearest possessions. No nation can be a self respecting nation until its members have the cherished privilege of carrying arms. Milton said “No nation can be nation until it can wield arms” and similarly Lord Roberts”. “A man can not be regarded as fully a citizen until he can defend his home and his liberties”. There was more in the question than the mere right of carrying arms and it was “Are Indians loyal or disloyal”. It seemed that Government had no faith in Indians. Before the war German, now the bitterest foes of England, could keep arms India while loyal Indians could not. In conclusion Mr. Lokomal said: “ I say to you, if you want to be able to rest in peace, to protect the honour of your women, to take India to its goal of liberty, get this Act repealed.”
The resolution, as amended, was passed.
Mr. Sahibsing C.Shahani moved. “This Conference is of the opinion that the rules about distribution of water as in force at present on the Jamrao and other similar canals are the cause of serious hardship on the Zamindars and it humbly draws the attention of the Government to that question and prays for the appointment of a committee of officials and non officials to deliberate and report on the question”. Mr. Sahibsing said that the rules had been enforced to the detriment of the Zamindars interests since 1906 though no complaints had been publicly made until now. The present system of supplying water was very defective and caused loss both to the Zamindar as well as the Government.
Syed Main Abdul Hakim Shah seconded the resolution, which was passed unanimously.
The following resolution was moved from the chair. “This Conference is of the opinion (a) that un surveyed lands which have been shown as belonging to certain persons in original pattas are the property of persons so mentioned; (b) that such original properties should not be prevented from cultivating those lands and all the records concerning the present survey numbers and former plots of agricultural land should be preserved with care; (c) that the attention of Government should be drawn to resolution No. 1836 dated 25th August 1884 according to which Zamindars are entitled to cultivate land without paying malkana and without being subject to any restrictions; (d) survey numbers which on account of the Fallow rule, have vested in Government should be given back to the Zamindars without any restriction and the Fallow rules abolished”.
The resolution was passed unanimously.
Mr. Naraindas moved that the next Sind Provincial Conference be held at Shikarpur. Mr. N. T. Bolakani seconded and the resolution was passed unanimously.
That concluded the business of the Conference which disappeared after a vote of thanks which was moved in eulogistic terms by Mr. Lalchand Navalrai and seconded by Mr. Jamshed N.R. Mehta.
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