Movements of armed bands were reported in early 1896 on the eastern side of the island, along the coast and up to 80km inland. Are they Menalamba or not Hippolyte Laroche, resident general after the expedition, has for its part a version really unrealistic. According to him, plunder seems to be their principal or their sole object. “They affect to give way to the training of a very pure sentiment of autochthonous patriotism and to raise among the tribes subjected to the yoke hova, the flag of independence.”
Their authors “claim each time from France and claim to be encouraged by its representatives, respecting whites and their property with care”. They seize the herds of the Merina, massacre the latter when they can reach them; Or burn them with their houses, which in this region are but large huts made of wood and reeds.
On the 17th of January, informed of the presence in his neighborhood of one of these bands of Fahavalo (enemies of the French in the sense of rebels) armed with only sagaies and knives, Captain Freystatter, commander of the station of the stage of Maromby, Approached with 40 men. He encounters the band unexpectedly and believes that his position is very compromised. But as soon as the Fahavalo recognized the French, “they refrain from attacking them,” consent to throw down their arms, kneel in a sign of submission, and not trying to flee, they wait to be surrounded by the tirailleurs.
The French captain, “without any other form of trial, thought it his duty to make them beaten or slaughtered to the last, they numbered 49- with blows and bayonets. General Voyron, informed of this useless butchery, has justly blamed it! “
Another group of 150 to 200 men head north towards Foulpointe and Fenoarivo. Second lieutenant Grammont and 59 riflemen are sent from Toamasina by schooner. Their mission is to first land at Foulpointe to ensure that the “rebels” are there. Otherwise, they will leave to occupy and defend against them Fenoarivo.
Grammont arrived on 26 January at Foulpointe, where the Fahavalo had settled for thirty-six hours. The governor and 30 merina officers, abandoned by their soldiers, took refuge on board a boat bound for Sainte-Marie Island. The “rebels” sack the properties of the Merina, killing two in the neighboring villages. “But they had systematically left intact the properties of the Whites and the Betsimisaraka. They believed in good faith that the French government had approved them, for instead of shirking, they watched the schooner and the French troops. “
Grammond disembarks at 2 pm, makes them prisoners and seizes their arms made up of five rifles and 50 sagaies. As the schooner can not contain all the prisoners, the latter are sent by group to Toamasina, to be brought before the indigenous court. “Their condemnation is inevitable: they will be executed in the presence of their men. These may, for example, be sent back to their tribes. “
According to the reports received by Hippolyte Laroche, several Mauritians established along the coast, between Mahanoro and Toamasina, are suspected of complicity with these Fahavalo. “I had them arrested and sent before the council of war. “
The troubles on this part of the eastern coast are repressed, and very severely. As the resident general points out, “the repression of 17 January was even disproportionate with their gravity. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Fahavalo were not seriously armed, that they avoided molesting whites and indigenous people and that we had not experienced any loss, however slight, Destroying or dispersing their bands “.
Other moving groups are reported further south, beyond the Mananjary River, a region cut off from all communication. That is why Dr. Besson is appointed to Fianarantsoa to resume the residential duties he exercised before the expedition. Dr. Besson has acquired a real popularity there, and consequently “a sufficient moral authority among the natives.”
Hippolyte Laroche considers that the agitation on the east coast retains “an essential character of sympathy for the French, conquerors of the Hova, and hatred against the latter by the vassal tribes.”