OCCASIONAL NOTE

Ceylon is apparently suffering acutely from the shortage and high price of rice resulting from the prohibition of export in Southern India and high freight rates from Rangoon. Locally pressure is being placed on the Governor to appoint a Food Commissioner who will arrange for the importation of rice and flour “on favourable terms” and place them on sale throughout the island at reasonable prices. The proposal is obviously a preposterous one, and in the Legislative Council last week the Governor refused to be cowed by threats of organised riots. “A Food Controller,” said his Excellency, “exists in Rangoon. He is the person to whom we have to look for food supplies in Ceylon, and he is the person who is fixing and has fixed the price for Ceylon.” The Governor evidently takes the view that the inhabitants of Ceylon are themselves largely responsible for the condition of shortage in which they find themselves. “The time has now come,” he said, “when it must be brought home to the agriculturists of this island that it is necessary that they should put forward their very best endeavours to produce the food-stuffs they are and will be short of. The end of the war does not mean you are going to get better food and more shipping facilities. On the other hand you are likely to have to take your share with France, Italy, th e United Kingdom, and possibly the Central Empires, of the food stuffs that are being produced in the world.”

DISTURBANCE AT A GHAT

Early on Tuesday morning a serious disturbance took place at Anaprosad Ghat, near Bagh Bazar, in which two rival cartowners and a large number of carters had a free fight, several men being injured. It appears that the two cart-owners in question have the monopoly of the south and middle ghats respectively, where a big business in the transhipment of straw is carried on. The dispute arose over a merchant of the south ghat causing some straw from the middle ghat to be removed by carters of the other ghat. The cart-owner of the middle ghat took exception to this and a quarrel ensued. The two cart-owners came to blows, the carters, numbering about 30, took sides, and a free fight followed, in which sticks were freely used. Information of the disturbance reached the First Division Port Police, who hastened to the scene. Some arrests were made and several men who were injured were removed to the Mayo Hospital.

HIGHWAY ROBBERY IN CALCUTTA

A daring highway robbery was committed on Tuesday at about 9 P.M. in Lower Circular Road at Mullickbazar, the victim being a collecting sarcar named Amritalal Ghosh who is lying in a precarious state in the Medical College Hospital. It appears that the sarcar was returning home after collecting some Rs 2,000 on behalf of his Marwari master when he was attacked by three men who assaulted him with lathis until he was rendered unconscious. Before help arrived the robbers succeeded in seizing the bag containing the money and disappeared. The injured man was subsequently removed by people of the locality to the hospital, where it was ascertained that his skull had been fractured. No arrest has so far been reported.

GERMAN DEFENCES BROKEN

In the great battle which opened yesterday between the Sambre and Scheldt our Third, Fourth, and First Armies heavily defeated with severe losses in killed, wounded, prisoners, guns, and material, no fewer than twenty-five German divisions, thus breaking the German defences on a thirty-mile front. Owing to this brilliant success the enemy is today retreating on the whole battlefront. Despite rain we are pressing him closely, taking prisoners. The enemy has abandoned complete batteries and quantities of material. We passed through Mormal forest and reached the general line Brazy- Grandfayt-Berlaimont, westward of Bavai-Rosin-Fresnes. We successfully attacked important railway junctions and aerodromes, setting fire to three hangars. We dropped a total of thirty-three tons of bombs. The enemy showed great activity. There was heavy fighting in which we brought down forty aeroplanes and drove fifteen down out of control. Thirty-five British machines are missing. Our night-fliers dropped fourteen tons. Four failed to return.

FIRE ON TRANSPORT AT BOMBAY

Last night a fire was discovered in number two hatch of the hired transport Palamcotta in Alexandra Dock. Within two hours the fire was brought under control. The vessel was to have sailed for Basra today. The hold contained over a thousand lifebelts and an equal number of hammocks, besides a cargo of jam and condensed milk cases and dried fruits which were damaged by fire, heat, smoke and water. The damage is estimated at Rs 50,000.