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Punjab Martyrs

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai an eminent freedom fighter of Punjab was born on January 28, 1865 at a small village. Dhudike, District Feroiepur. His father Munshi Radha Krishan. a banya by caste, was a teacher of Persian and Urdu in a government school.

As a brilliant student, Iajpat Rai won many academic distatctiorts despite his ill health. Having passed the Matriculation examination, he pursued the study of law and passed the First certificate of Law examination from the P•anjab University. In 1883 he started his practice as a lawyer. Originally, he started his practice of taw at Hisssr where he organ nised a branch of the Arya Sanaj. As Lahore could provide much letter opportunities for his professional and other activities, he shifted his residence there. His close association with Lala Hans Raj. Gurudalt Vidyarathi and Clictnanand gave hint deep interest in religion, education and social reform. In particular, he was greatly influenced by the Arya Samaj movement in the l9mjab. Being a champion of modern education, he played a leading role in the foundation of D.A.V. College. Lahore and collected a uisajor portion of its endowment fund of 5 lnes of rupees His interest in education even took him to America and Japan where he made a close study of their educational institutions. He was equally active in the field of social service. In 1897 and again in 1899.-1900, he organi<.cd a Hindu Orphanage Relief Movement which rendered help to about 2000 (rphans. Similarly, in the famine of 1901 and the earthquake of 1905 he helped the distressed people.

Lajpat Rai started his political career by joining the Indian National Congress and attending its annual session of 1883 at Allahalud. An active. sincere and selfless worker, Lajpat Rai soon acquired a place of irnportanoe in national politics. In 1905 he was selected along with Gokhale to P.o to England to explain to the British public the evils of uns)anpadietic bureaucratic government under which India was then Labouring. A staunch nationalist and revolutionary as he was, lie joined the extremist wing of the Congress led by Bipin Charxlra Pal and B.G.Tilak and stremsusly worked for a radical change in the Congress policy.

Lajpat Pal together with Ajit Singh wtiippcd up a strong resistance against the Punjab Colonization Bill 1907 which gripped the Punjab by agarrin unrest and seriously affected the interests of people of the Canal Colom:es. Consequently, he was deported to Mandlay, on May 9, 1907• This created a wave of indignation in the whole country and he was released after six months.

After a few years of his release he proceeded to America where he cam in close contact with the leaders of the Ghadr nsovcmcnt. His activities abroad were considered dangerous by the Guverrunent of India and a ban was imposed on his return to the country. After the war was over, the ban was lifted and he came hack to India on February 20, 1920. It was art occasion for national rejoicing and the Indian National Congress honoured him by elecltng him as its President. In his absence the Punjab had been brutally mauled. The Rowlatt Bills and the Jallsanwala Bagh Tragedy embittered him all the more against the Government. Therefore wtten the Nun-Cooperation Movement coos launched, he plunged into it whole bcancdly with the result that he was arrested and Jailed.

After his release. Iata Lajpat Rai joined the Svsmrajist puny but due to his differences with Pandit Mod Gal Nehru he had to leave it With a vein of extremism in him he always kept close contact with Indian revolutionaries and secretly gave all possible meow-ab*enmcn; to them. That is the reason that people like Bhagat Singh had such a deep reverence for him. His end was in keeping with his career. While he was leading a procession at Lahore against the SL-non Commission in 1928, he was subjected to a severe lathi-charge The lion of the Punjab. or Punjab Kesri as he was called, succumbed to the latlti blows and died after a month on November 17, 1928.

Lajpat Rai dead was even more dangerous than Lajpat Rai alive. His death unleashed hectic revolutionary activity which culminated in the execution of Bhagat Singh. Rajguru and Sukhdev in 1931.


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