LALA LAJPAT RAI
Emergence: 28 January 1865
Demise: 17 November 1928
Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian freedom fighter. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one of the three Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894.
After joining the Indian National Congress and taking part in political agitation in Punjab, Lala Lajpat Rai was deported to Mandalay, Bud that there was insufficient evidence to hold him for subversion. Lajpat Rai’s supporters attempted to secure his election to the presidency of the party session at Surat in December 1907, but he did not succeed.
Graduates of the National College, which he founded inside the Bradlaugh Hall at Lahore as an alternative to British institutions, included Bhagat Singh. He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organisation, in Lahore, which shifted its base to Delhi after partition, and has branches in many parts of India. According to him, Hindu society needs to fight its own battle with caste system, position of women and untouchability.
Vedas were an important part of Hindu religion but the lower caste were not allowed to read them. Lala Lajpat Rai approved that the lower caste should be allowed to read them and recite the mantras. He believed that everyone should be allowed to read and learn from the Vedas.
In 1928, the British government set up the Commission, headed by Sir John Simon (Later, Lord Simon, 1st Viscount Simon) to report on the political situation in India. The Indian political parties boycotted the Commission, because it did not include a single Indian in its membership, and it met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led a non-violent march in protest against it. The protesters chanted “Simon go back” and carried black flags.
The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being extremely injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.
Along with founding Arya Gazaette as its editor, he regularly contributed to several major Hindi, Punjabi, English and Urdu newspapers and magazines. He also authored the following published books.
– The Story of My Deportation, 1908.
– Arya Samaj, 1915.
– The United States of America: A Hindu’s Impression, 1916.
– The problem of National Education in India, 1920.
– Unhappy India, 1928.
– England’s Debt to India, 1917.
– Autobiographical Writings
He wrote biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi,Shivaji,and Shrikrishna.
– Young India: An Interpretation and a History of the Nationalist Movement from Within. New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1916.
– The Collected Works of Lala Lajpat Rai, Volume 1 to Volume 15, edited by B.R. Nanda.