OCCASIONAL NOTE

The merciless cross-examination of the great proprietors of coal-bearing properties by the Labour members of the Coal Commission should remind the Indian Government of a danger in this country to which their attention has already more than once been called. If the Labour members’ allegations are correct the titles of English landowners to mining royalties are often of the flimsiest character. In some cases it is doubtful whether the landowner has any better title than mere silent acquiescence, in his supposed possession, continued for several generations. Cases such as those are unlikely to arise in India, but at a time when the exploitation of great mineral wealth is beginning in this country the Government might very well take steps in time to prevent large fractions of it from falling into the hands of persons who possess no other merit than their capacity and willingness to possess themselves of the soil when, to all outward seeming, it is almost valueless. Already the increment in land values in the vicinity of the main Tata concession is becoming enormous, and under the influence of competition values are likely to rise much higher. The existence of large khas properties in Singhbhoom should result in much of the royalties and profits flowing into the public purse. The public will need watching, however, in that and other areas rich in minerals if the public exchequer is to benefit as it should from their impending development.

EXPLOSION ON JOTI

There was a sitting of the Marine Court yesterday, with Mr. Swinhoe, Chief Presidency Magistrate, as President and Captain A.J. Brame of the I.G.N. & Railway Co., and Mr. W. Lunan of the Asiatic Steam Navigation Co., as members, to enquire into the circumstances of the explosion of the boiler safety valve chest on the steam launch Joti belonging to Messrs. Hoare Miller & Co., on the 8th May last. It appears that on the day in question the launch was getting into position off Armenian Ghat, in order to take a cargo boat laden with salt to Salkea when it collided with the boat. Simultaneously there was an explosion on board the Joti. Two men of the crew who were working in the engine rooms were seriously burned and subsequently succumbed to their injuries. Madan Mistri, the engineer of the Joti, Sheikh Amir Meah, manjhi of the barge, and other witnesses having been examined the enquiry was closed. The finding of the court will be promulgated in due course.

PUNJAB RIOTS

Judgment has been delivered by the Martial Law Commission presided over by Lieutenant-Colonel A.A. Irvine in the Guard Robinson murder case in which Ghulam Kadir, Gullu and Kanhiya were charged under sections 121, 147, 302 and 149, I.P.C. The judgment states that when the mob at Amritsar was repulsed from the civil lines at the footbridge over the railway, part of the crowd turned towards the goods shed and there caught and brutally murdered Guard Robinson. The judgment states: Of the three men now before us we are not satisfied that the prosecution has made out a case against Ghulam Kadir and Gullu and we have acquitted them. The third accused, Kanhiya, alias Gayer, is we think, proved to have been one of the men from among the mob who actually stuck Guard Robinson. We find him guilty of an offence under section 121-302, I.P.C., and sentence him to death, together with the forfeiture of such property as was owned by him at the time of the commission of the offence and as is liable to forfeiture.

THE FRONTIER

SIMLA, JUNE 12

Reports from Chitral state that the Wakhan garrison has received a reinforcement of a few cavalry and about three hundred infantry. A battalion is said to be on its way from Kabul to Faizabad in Badakshn. There is no change on the Dakka front, and the Peshawar, Kohat and Bannu districts are reported quiet except for raiding gangs. Small bands of Sherannis are still in the neighbourhood of Fort Sandeman, and there is unrest in the Musa Khel country, where some sections of the tribe have risen, but no serious developments are reported. The Agent to the Governor-General in Baluchistan has received loyal messages and offers of service from the Jam of Kas Bela Bugti, Nawab Mari Sardar, Pathan sardars and headmen of Killa Saifulla, and Gichki Sardars of Mekran.

GENERALS SUMMONED TO KABUL

SIMLA, JUNE 12

Some days may elapse before the receipt of the reply to the Viceroy’s letter, for the reason that the Amir has sent for Generals Nadir Khan and Dost Mohomed Khan, probably in order to consult them. Meanwhile it is stated that more order prevails in Jalalabad. The new Brigadier has issued a proclamation asking the residents to return, promising them security against Shinwari and Afridi raids. It is also reported that fresh troops have arrived in Jalalabad.