Sir John Strachy, in his admirable book upon India, says: “These people have gone on killing their children generation after generation because their forefathers did so before them, not only without a thought that there is anything criminal in the practice, but with the conviction that it is right. There can be little doubt that if vigilance were relaxed the custom would before long become as prevalent as ever.” The measures taken by the government have been radical and stringent. A system of registration of births and deaths was provided by an act passed in 1870, with constant inspection and frequent enumeration of children among the suspected classes, and no efforts were spared to convince them that the government had finally resolved to prevent the practice and in doing so treated it as murder.
SIMLA AND THE PUNJAB
At Delhi the railway forks. One branch runs on to the frontier of Afghanistan via Lahore and Peshawur, and the other via Umballa, an important military post, to Simla, the summer capital and sanitarium of India. Because of the climate there must be two capitals. From October to April the viceroy occupies the government house at Calcutta with the civil and military authorities around him, but as soon as the summer heat sets in the whole administration, civil, military and judicial, removes to Simla, and everybody follows, foreign consuls, bankers, merchants, lawyers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, hotel and boardinghouse keepers, with their servants, coachmen and horses. The commander-in-chief of the army, the adjutant general and all the heads of the other departments with their clerks take their books and records along with them. The winter population of Simla is about 15,000; the summer population reaches 30,000. The exodus lasts about a month, during which time every railway train going north is crowded and every extra car that can be spared is borrowed from the other railways. The last of October the migration is reversed and everybody returns to Calcutta. This has been going on for nearly fifty years. The journey to Umballa is made by rail and thence by “dak-gherries,” a sort of covered democrat wagon, “mailtongas,” a species of cart, bullock carts, army wagons and carriages of every size and description, while the luggage is brought up the hills in various kinds of conveyance, much of it on the heads of coolies, both women and men. The distance, fifty-seven miles by the highway, is all uphill, but can be made by an ordinary team in twelve hours.