Lahore, Thursday, January 15, 1920

Mr. Montagu’s evasion on occurrences in Punjab.

MOST people would think that Mr. Montagu would have done well if he had made no attempt, at the interview he granted to a Pall Mall Gazette representative, to reply to the complaint that “the British public and the India Office were ignorant of the details of the occurrences in the Punjab until the evidence before the Hunter Committee reached England.” He had and could possibly have no reply to give. Only a few days before, he had stated in the House of Commons in reply to a question by the leader of the official Liberal Opposition:-“I knew of no details of the circumstances until I saw the report in the newspapers.” What else have those been saying whose complaint Mr. Montagu sought to reply to? It is true he added that “he could be reported to him,” and that “it would be the Committee of Inquiry that would report to him on the facts, the circumstances and the evidence.” But this was entirely beside the issue. The question is not whether it was the duty of the Government of India and the Viceroy to report to him the evidence before the Hunter Committee, but whether it was not their duty to send him a detailed report of the occurrence themselves at the time when they took place, or as soon after they took place as they possibly could, and whether there was any justification for keeping the Secretary of State and the British public in the dark as to the details of the occurrences for eight long months after they had taken place. It is this last question which the critics of the Government in India and in England have been asking, and to this question Mr. Montagu had evidently no answer. All that he was able to say was “that having decided that the Hunter Committee should inform the public of the events in detail, the India office had nothing to do except to await the result of the inquiry.”

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