OCCASIONAL NOTE

The result of the voting in the Bombay Legislative Council on a resolution to compel all municipalities and local boards in the Presidency to throw open the wells and dharamsalas owned by theme to the “untouchable classes” affords an interesting revelation of the character of the new democracy in India. First an amendment providing that local bodies should either throw open existing amenities to the “untouchables” or provide alternative ones was rejected by four votes in favour to eighteen votes against. The original motion was then also rejected, 14 members voting in favour and 18 against. The “untouchables” represent roughly one in five of the Indian population. They contribute to the revenues out of which the wells are provided but they are not allowed to use them nor are the most enlightened classes in India in favour of according them a right far more elementary than that of representation as the complement of taxation – the right, namely, to enjoy the amenities which they assist to provide. There is a tendency to suppose that the panchamas of Madras are the chief sufferers from the old Brahmin prejudices. The Bombay debate shows that these prejudices retain all their old vitality in the other provinces and that the political movement leaves them entirely unaffected.

DEPRESSED CLASSES IN BOMBAY

At today’s meeting of the Legislative Council there were two prolonged and animated debates on the social betterment of the depressed classes in the Presidency. The first and by far the more interesting discussion was on a resolution moved by the Hon. Mr. Paranjpe recommending that instructions be issued to Commissioners and Collectors asking them to include among the nominated members of various local boards and municipalities suitable men from the depressed classes whenever such men were available. Mr. Paranjpe congratulated the Government on nominating a member of the depressed classes on the Poona and Dharwar municipalities, and asked that the Government should persist in this course and go a little quicker. A number of non-official speakers, who followed, made sympathetic speeches. Sir Ibrahim Rahimtoola on behalf of the Government accepted the resolution with an addition that such instructions should be to include as far as possible men from the depressed classes.

THE MAHSUDS

SIMLA, JULY 9

The Mahsuds recently sent a message to Nadir Khan the Afghan General, asking that he should use his influence to get the British to extend an amnesty to them as part of the terms of peace, but all that Nadir Khan has done is to send to the Officer Commanding at Thal a letter on the subject, of which very properly no notice has been taken. It is reported that several large caravans are now at Ghazni waiting to come down India. The Seths and Marwaris who finance trade with the Afghans were as much taken by surprise by the Amir’s declaration of war as the Government of India. They have advanced large sums to Shinwari traders and are naturally anxious for peace. Their influence in the larger cities may be considered one of the factors of the situation. If the present uncertainty continues much longer, there is a possibility of the development of a new domestic situation in Afghanistan, for the peace party is now very strong.

BURNING FATALITY AT A SUGAR FACTORY

On Wednesday the Police Magistrate of Sealdah disposed of the case in which Dahu Meah, a tindal in charge of the boiler of the factory engine at Messrs. Turner, Morrison and Co.’s Sugar Works at Cossipore, was charged with negligently causing the death by burning of a coolie by allowing him to enter the boiler for the purpose of cleaning it before the fire was extinguished. The Magistrate, on acquitting the accused, observed:- It appears to be well nigh certain that the misadventure of the deceased was due to his fall on the bottom flue where there was an accumulation of hot ashes. Under the circumstances the charge of negligent conduct against the accused cannot stand.

CURIOUS PERSONATION CASE

Two Chinamen were arrested by the Hare Street police on a charge of false personation and cheating. It appears that about a fortnight ago the Excise Department arrested two Chinamen at Chinapara on a charge of being in possession of a large quantity of unlicensed opium. The two men were duly produced before the Chief Presidency Magistrate and bailed out. On Tuesday on the case being called, two Chinamen entered the dock and pleaded guilty to the charge, but the Excise officers in charge of the case discovered that they were not the men who were arrested by them and released on bail. They were made over to the Hare Street police who ascertained on further enquiry that the real culprits had absconded. A third Chinaman has been arrested on a charge of aiding and abetting the offence of cheating by false personation.