LALA LAJPAT RAI
(28th JANUARY 1865 TO 17th NOVEMBER 1928)
Lala Lajpat Rai, an apostle of patriotism was born in a middle class Aggarwal family at Dhudike, a small village in Punjab, on 28th January 1865. His father, Munshi Radha Krishan was a teacher in a school in his home town, Jagraon. In 1883 Lalaji passed his Mukhtiari examination and three years later, the Pleader's examination. He started his legal practice as Mukhtiar at Jagraon and thereafter shifted to Rohtak and then to Hissar in 1886 where he practised as Vakil. Soon, he distinguished in his profession and was regarded as one of the top vakils of hissar Distt. For better exposure, in 1892 he moved to Lahor where he shot to prominence and enjoyed lucrative practice in the High Court then known as the Lahore Chief Court, diverting the bulk of his earnings to philanthropic projects. He lived a very simple and frugal life spent much of what he earned on charities and on promotion of education. On his death he left a petty amount of RS.500/- in his bank Ale. but had established certain reputed institutions. Gulab Devi Hospital was constructed in the memory of his mother which continues, even today, to serve the people of Lahore under the same name. Being attracted to the theology and spirit of Hindu Nationalism, Lalaji, while he was in his teens actively joined the Arya Samaj. The Arya Samaj, he considered was one of the greatest Iiberalising and uplifting agency in the country. In the memory of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, soon after his death, Lalaji alongwith Lala Hansraj established DAV College at Lahore where for some time he taught history.
In the freedom struggle Lalaji acted as self styled Ambassador of India in U.K., U.S.A, Switzerland, Japan and many other countries. For national reconstruction, he initiated the movements of Achhutodhar, Labour welfare, by publishing 'The people' & 'Bande Matram' , by starting Punjab National Bank, Laxmi Insurance Corporation. He encouraged Khadi & Village Industries by introducing its exhibitions at the time of all India Congress Committee sessions. He also worked vehemently for communal harmony and Swadeshi movements. Because of his zeal for social and religious reformation Lalaji joined politics. His first contact with the Indian National congress was in 1888. Lalaji played a prominent role in the peasant movement that swept the province in 1907. The Govt. decided to deal with the movement with a heavy hand. As a result Lalaji was sentenced to transportation for life to Nicobar, Mandaly (Myanmar) islands. The sentence was, however, later reduced to six months. This movement made Lalaji the foremost political leader in Punjab. In 1914 Lalaji, as member of Indian National Congress mission, went to London to apprise the British Parliament of Indian peoples' view point on the reforms proposed by the Government. From there, he went to the United States and spent the war period there convassing support for home role for India. In 1920 Lalaji was elected President of the Indian National Congress, the only Punjabi to get to that position.
Lalaji founded servants of the People Society at Lahore in 1921 with the Tilak School as one of its activities. It was formally inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on 9th November, 1921. Lalaji donated his bugalow and library to the Society. The object of the Society was to enlist and train national missionaries to work for the educational, cultural, social, economic and political advancement of the country. In October 1928 Simon Commission visited Lahore. Both the congress and the Muslim League had decided to boycott it. Lalaji, then a 63 years old frail man, led the procession against the commission. The processionists were peaceful and only chanted slogans against the British Government. At the Lahore Railway station, the procession was brutally baton-charged by the police under ASP. J.P. Saunders, particularly targeting Lalaji. He was mauled up and bled profusely. Undeterred, he spoke publically "Every blow hurled at me will prove a nail in the coffin of the British Empire ". On the same evening he delivered a memorable speech at a mamoth public meeting at Morigate, Lahore, Unfortunately he could not recover from the grievous injuries suffered during the lathi charge and passed away on 17th November 1928. Lala Lajpat Rai Hall in Lahore at present houses Fingerprints Bureau of Pakistan Police.
Mahatma Gandhi while paying tributes to Lalaji said, "Lala Lajpat Rai is dead; Long Live Lalaji, Men like Lalaji cannot die so long as the sun shines in the Indian Sky. Lalaji meant an Institution.