Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai(Jan 28, 1865 – Forever)

He was an author and politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for freedom from the British Raj. The freedom fighter was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (The Lion of Punjab). He was also the founder of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company. He was one of the three most prominent Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, who fought for, and gave their lives during the Indian independence movement in the first half of the twentieth century. The other two were Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal. Collectively, they were dubbed Lal-Bal-Pal, and formed the the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate faction led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and later by Mahatma Gandhi. It was the Partition of Bengal in 1905 that aroused their robust nationalism and set them firmly on the path to fighting for freedom. The repressive measures of the British Government against the growing nationalist movement inspired them to infuse greater national pride and self-respect into the populace. The trio wanted a degree of self-government that was considered radical at the time. They were the first Indian leaders to demand complete political independence. Rai presided over the first session of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1920. He also went to Geneva to attend the eighth International Labour Conference in 1926 as a representative of Indian labour. He had an opportunity to watch the labour movement in the USA and England where he was required to prolong his stay for political reasons.

Rai led the Punjab protests against the Amritsar Massacre (1919) and the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919 – 1922). He was repeatedly arrested. Rai however disagreed with Mohandas Gandhi’s suspension of the movement due to the Chauri Chaura incident. He was not only a good orator but also a prolific and versatile writer. Bande Mataram and People, contained his inspiring speeches to end oppression by the foreign rulers. He founded the Servants of the People Society, which worked for the freedom movement as well as for social reform in the country. He also wrote an autobiography in English titled The Story of My Life.

A strong believer in leading by example, he himself led a procession with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya to demonstrate against the Simon Commission, which was to prove fatal for him. He was made the target of a brutal lathi charge done by a british Sergent Stone in which he was injured badly on his chest. A meeting was held the same evening where he spoke with such vigour that his words, “Every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British imperialism”, became historic. Though he recovered from the fever and pain within three days his health had received a permanent setback and on November 17, 1928, he succumbed to the fatal injuries. His death led to great disturbances in the country and it inspired national struggle for freedom.

A Collection By Chetan

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