to Jedda, and passengers were shipped ostensibly to Bussorah, whom enquiry
showed to be pilgrims bound for Mecca vi that port; and as ships sailing
for the Persian Gulf are not pilgrim ships within the meaning of Section 5 of
the Pilgrim Ships Act, their embarkation could not in the then existing state
of the law be prevented, and all endeavours to dissuade them from proceeding
on their journey proved fruitless.
2. On the 7th February, however, the project of despatching the pilgrims
in Bombay to Madras or Calcutta, so that they might take ship thence to the
Hedjaz, had to undergo considerable modification. Urgent orders were received
from the Government of India that endeavours should be made to dissuade them
from proceeding to either Madras or Calcutta, and that if they persisted, they
should be isolated for ten days at Nsik or some other suitable place in the
Bombay Presidency. This Government were requested to make the necessary
arrangements without delay, and meanwhile not to allow any pilgrims who had not
abandoned the idea of pilgrimage to leave Bombay. The Collector of Nsik was
at once instructed to select a suitable site for the proposed isolation camp some-
where near Nsik. The site proposed by him was at Chehedi, one and a half miles
south-east of the Nsik Road Railway Station, and about 500 yards from the
village site. It lay in perfectly open country and being on the bank of the river
Dharna, there was a good water-supply near at hand. The proposal was approved,
and the Collector asked to push on preparations and have the camp ready by
the 21st February for the isolation of the pilgrims whom it was proposed to send
on to Calcutta after ten days' detention at Nsik. On the 10th February 1897,
the Commissioner of Police, Bombay, reported that about 294 pilgrims had
proceeded up-country ostensibly to their homes, leaving about 600, the majority
of whom would probably persist in their intention of going to the Hedjaz.
Pilgrims were also still coming into Bombay, and on the 11th February
Government issued a Notification under the Epidemic Diseases Act (it had just
become law), prohibiting pilgrims from proceeding in the direction of Bombay
beyond the railway stations of Ahmedabad, Bhusval, Londa and Hotgi.
3. The arrangements for the disposal of the pilgrims in Bombay entered
upon a further important stage of development on the 17th February, when the
following Notification was issued by the Government of India under the Epidemic
Diseases Act, 1897:
"In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 2, sub-section 1, of the Epidemic
Diseases Act, 1897, the Governor General in Council is pleased to direct that no person
resident, permanently or temporarily, in the Bombay Presidency or Sind, and no person
who, though not resident in the Bombay Presidency or Sind, has entered the Bombay
Presidency or Sind with the object of proceeding on a pilgrimage to the Hedjaz, shall until
further orders be permitted to embark on any ship at any port in British India with the
object of making a pilgrimage to the Hedjaz. The Governor General in Council is further
pleased to direct that all persons who have entered the Bombay Presidency or Sind with
the object of proceeding to the Hedjaz shall be placed in a camp of observation until such
time as the Medical officer in charge shall satisfy himself that all risk of the occurrence of
plague among them has been completely abated. They shall then be sent to their homes
and the railway expenses of their journey shall be met by the State."
This Government were at the same time asked by urgent telegram to
arrange to have all the pilgrims then in Bombay conveyed at once to the camp
at Nasik and there put under observation and not allowed to leave for ten days
after arrival, or if plague occurred among them, till they had been free from it
for ten days. Directions were also given that the pilgrims should be separated
into batches according to their provinces of origin, and each batch taken under
charge of a responsible official of the Bombay Government and by him handed
over to an official to be named and at a place to be fixed by the Local Govern-
ments from whose territories the men composing the batch came. This last
arrangement was, however, subsequently modified at the request of this Govern-
ment, and the various Local Governments concerned were asked to send police
escorts to accompany the pilgrims from the camp at Nsik.
4. In compliance with the wishes of the Government of India, the pre-
parations for despatching the pilgrims from Bombay and detaining them at
the camp were pushed on with a rapidity highly creditable to all concerned.
Arrangements had to be made with the Railway authorities for a special
train to convey the pilgrims to Nsik and with the Military authorities
for an escort of 100 British soldiers to guard them. Upon the Commissioner
of Police, Bombay, devolved the difficult duty of keeping a watch on all