Lala Lajpat Rai, an extremist leader and Indian Freedom fighter was born on 28th January 1865 in Dhudike, Punjab. He played a significant role in Indian Independence Movement. Lala Lajpat Rai was popularly known as Punjab Kesari and Lion of Punjab. He was part of the famous radical trio Lal Bal Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal), They together advocated the Swadeshi Movement in India, which involved the boycott of all imported goods and the use of Indian made goods. He also initiated the foundation of Punjab National Bank.
Lala Lajpat Rai received his initial education in a Government Higher Secondary School in Rewari, Punjab province, where his father was posted as an Urdu teacher. In 1880 Lajpat Rai joined Government College at Lahore to study Law, while studying there he came in contact with future freedom fighters, such as Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. He was influenced by the Hindu reformist movement of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and became a member of existing Arya Samaj Lahore (founded 1877) and founder editor of Lahore-based Arya Gazette.
In 1886 he shifted to Hissar with his family practiced law. There, he helped in establishing the nationalistic Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School and became a follower of Dayanand Saraswati. He moved to Lahore to practice law before the High Court in 1892. In 1914, he quit practicing law to dedicate himself to the freedom of India.
Contribution to India’s Freedom
In 1917 he moved to the United States and founded the Indian Home Rule League of America in New York. He stayed in the United States from 1917 to 1920. Rai returned to India in 1920 and in 1921 led the special session of the Indian Congress Party which launched the non-co-operation movement. He was imprisoned from 1921 to 1923 and elected to the legislative assembly after the release. In 1928, the Simon Commission was set up. The Indian protesters chanted “Simon go back” and carried black flags. It was during this protest the police lathi charge occurred against the protestors. Lala Lajpat Rai was personally assaulted and injured brutally, he subsequently addressed the crowd with his famous words and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.
Apart from being a great freedom fighter and leader, Lala Lajpat Rai was also a noted writer. Here are some of the books which he wrote:
- 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.
- Young India: An Interpretation and a History of the Nationalist Movement from Within.