This petition of 14 July 1884 was submitted by ‘traders and storekeepers from Mauritius and other colonies’. The Protector of Indian Immigrants claimed that behind it lay Doorasamy Pillay’s desire 'to procure employment in some official capacity'. Be that as it may, the document reflects most clearly how some Indians felt about laws, temples, curfews, arrest by 'Kaffirs', Sunday trading interpreters and inspectors, and Indian jurors. The desire for Indian, involvement in all matters concerning Indians is clearly expressed. Source: G.H.318, 1883-6, Natal Archives.
I.That your memorialists respectfully pray that it may please your Excellency to ask the Government of the Colony of Natal to communicate any bill or measure concerning the Indians residing in the Colony which may be proposed in the Legislative Council of Natal prior to its being passed into law, as by the experience possessed by your Excellency in Council of the civil and religions rights of the Indians you will be better able to judge than those unacquainted with the manners, customs and religion of your memorialists whether the bills or measures may be beneficial to them or not.
II. That it may please your Excellency to assure the Governor of Natal that there exists an Act called the 'Thavasthanam Act' passed for the benefit of the Madras Presidency, by which the Government of India have indulged the natives in enjoying their religious rights, and pay a certain sum of money called the 'Mohim', for the maintenance of their temples, and at the same time to request the Colonial Government to be so good as to assist your memorialists by making free grants to them of land in extent of from two to five acres, in the immediate vicinity of the following townships of Pietermaritzburg, Durban Verulam, Pinetown, and Isipingo, according to the number of Indian inhabitants who reside, or may reside, in them, with the object of building a pagoda, there being none in the Colony thereby preventing the Indians from observing their religious rights and ceremonies, which they could do if they had a place of worship, and of making a burning or burial ground, as your memorialists are not wealthy enough to pay for the same.
III.That your memorialists beg most respectfully to draw your Excellency' attention to a bye-law existing in all corporate towns of the Colony, that prevents 'all coloured people being out of doors after 9 p.m. without a pass.' This presses very hard on respectable Indians, who may have occasion to go out after the stated hour, either to a place of amusement or to call in a doctor in case of illness; for should they do so, and are found by the police, they are arrested and if they are not able to pay the required bail, are incarcerated all night and next morning are taken up before a magistrate and fined. That your memorialists are grieved because they are treated like Kaffirs, who are barbarians, and are only now being brought within the pale of civilisation, whereas the Indian are known to have been a civilised nation from the earliest times. In again drawing your Excellency's attention to this bye-law, it is with the object of asking the Government of India to intercede with the Colonial Government and request that your memorialists may be exempted from it, as they are respectable British Indian subjects, paying taxes to the Colonial Government.
IV.That your memorialists most earnestly pray your Excellency will be so good as to ask the Governor of Natal to prevent Indians being arrested by Kaffir constables, who treat them with great cruelty, using unnecessary and undue violence. The records of the Natal courts will go to prove their ill treatment of people. Your memorialists therefore solicit that they maybe arrested, when necessary, by European or Indian constables, who do not use harsh measures, but treat all alike, for the Madras people are weak and effeminate, as stated by Mr. Morris in his History of India, and cannot, consequently, stand ill-usage as others might.
V. That the Indian immigrants are sent by the Imperial Government of India to Natal with the understanding that they should be treated properly as British Indian subjects; and as the rations they get are not sufficient to maintain them, they have to come into the nearest towns to procure the necessaries of life, and they can only do so on a Sunday, consequently your memorialists solicit that your Excellency will address the Government of Natal, and ask them to permit your memorialists to open their stores, with the exception of spirit shops, on that day, to enable the poor immigrants, who are the prime means of labour in the Colony, and of enriching it, to obtain the provisions they require, as the Indians not being Christians are not bound like Europeans, according to law, to close their shops on a Sunday.
VI.That your memorialists beg most respectfully to state that the Supreme Court of Natal at Pietermaritzburg has no Indian interpreter, and when Indian cases have to be heard, the interpreter at the resident magistrate's court at Verulam has to be sent for, thus causing a delay, which is unnecessary, of all Indian cases that may come before the court at Verulam during his absence, and that the Indian interpreters at the resident magistrate's court at Durban and other places have not a thorough knowledge of Tamil, Telegoo, and Hindoostani, the Indian languages commonly used in the Colony, causing a misunderstanding between the bench and suitors, thereby preventing justice being properly meted out to your memorialists, as British Indian subjects, consequently entailing great loss, injury, and inconvenience to them. Your memorialists therefore earnestly pray that your Excellency may be pleased to ask the Colonial Government to be so good as to have competent interpreters in all the Natal courts.
VII. That with reference to Ordinance 8 of 1882, passed by the Legislative Council of Natal, section 18, which proclaims that no person, unless they are practising advocates and attornies of the Supreme Court of Natal, in Pietermaritzburg, can appear before the resident magistrate's court at Durban, your memorialists therefore pray your Excellency to ask the Governor of Natal either to send for a legal practitioner from India who is thoroughly conversant with all Indian languages, as the immigrants, as well as your humble memorialists, are most of them unacquainted with English, and consequently have a difficulty of making known their wishes to any legal adviser they may have at any time to consult; and pay the man sent for from the funds at the disposal of the Natal Immigration Board, or permit one that may be selected by the community residing in the Colony from among themselves to be enrolled as a legal practitioner so that the Indians may have the benefit of his advice. This is more especially the case at Durban, where a larger number of Indians reside than in any other part of the Colony. Your memorialists beg most respectfully to state that a legal practitioner, who is thoroughly conversant with Indian dialects, would be of great service to any of the Natal courts.
VIII.Your humble memorialists being sure that no Indian immigrants give their true depositions or statements with regard to their better or ill-treatment on the estates they belong [to] to a European officer, although he is accompanied by an interpreter under his orders, beg your Excellency to ask the appointment of an inspector or interpreter, on a better pay, allowance and battah [?] from India, or one whom we may choose here when permitted, to accompany the Protector of Immigrants, with two European beat constables, to avoid all sorts of enmity and risks that may occur only when on inspection of the immigrants, liberating him to be an independent servant, for the purpose of keeping up communication between the Natal and Indian Governments if necessary.
IX.Your memorialists pray your Excellency to advise the Natal Government to appoint Indian members or jurors, when any measure, case, proceeding, law, tax, i.a. is to be dealt with concerning any Indian or Indian population, as the European colonists of Natal may not thoroughly understand the position, manner, system, and custom of Indians.
X. Your memorialists beg to enclose copies of petitions forwarded to different officers in the Colony of Natal concerning the requirements of Indians, with replies thereto, and most respectfully beg your Excellency will be pleased to direct that the grievances complained of may be rectified.