17 November 1928
Death of Lala Lajpat Rai
On 17 November 1928, the ‘Lion of Punjab’ Lala Lajpat Rai passed away in Lahore aged 63.
- Lala Lajpat Rai was born in Dhudike, District Moga of Punjab on 28 January 1865.
- His father, Munshi Radha Krishan Agrawal was a Persian and Urdu teacher in a government school, and his mother Gulab Devi was a pious lady.
- Rai studied in the Government Higher Secondary School at Rewari and then at the Government College at Lahore. He studied law in college. While in college, he came in contact with patriots like Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. He was also influenced by Dayanand Saraswati and joined the Arya Samaj Lahore. He also founded and edited the magazine, Arya Gazette.
- After attaining his law degree, he started his legal practice at Hisar, Haryana.
- He was a deep believer in Hinduism and the idea that nationalism based on Hindu principles would lead to peace and a true secular nation could be founded on those principles.
- He was also involved with the Hindu Mahasabha.
- Rai founded the Hisar branch of the Indian National Congress in 1886. In 1892, he shifted base to Lahore and started practicing law in the Lahore High Court. He also started contributing to various magazines and newspapers. He started political agitation against the government. In 1907, he was deported to Mandalay (Burma) without trial. He was released after a few months for lack of evidence.
- In 1914, he gave up the practice of law and dedicated himself to serve the nation and liberating her from the yolk of foreign domination.
- He visited the USA and lived there from 1917 to 1920. While there, he founded the Indian Home Rule League of America. There he worked among Indians for creating moral support for the Indian struggle for independence. He even petitioned the Senate in the USA providing them a clear picture of the pathetic Indian administration by Britain.
- After returning to India, he joined the various movements and activities of the INC.
- On 30 October 1928, the Simon Commission was visiting Lahore. Then, Lajpat Rai led a silent march in protest against the commission since it did not include a single Indian member.
- He was subject to a brutal lathi charge by the Superintendent of Police, James Scott. Even after being assaulted, Rai said to the crowd, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India.”
- Punjab Kesari Lajpat Rai died of a heart attack on 17 November 1928 in Lahore. It is believed that he never fully recovered from the blows received at the hands of Scott. This was denied by the British government when the issue was raised in the British Parliament. Bhagat Singh and his associates exacted revenge for Rai’s death by killing ASP John Saunders who was mistaken for Scott.
- Rai was a complete patriot who sacrificed his life for the country. 17 November is celebrated as Martyr’s Day in his honour in India.
Some of Lajpat Rai’s works
- The Story of My Deportation
- The United States of America: A Hindu’s Impression
- Arya Samaj
- England’s Debt to India
- Unhappy India
- Young India
Also on This Day
1525: Babur started his last expedition to India to conquer the subcontinent. 1932: Third Round Table Conference in London. 2012: Death of the founder of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thakeray.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.