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Portrait of Lala Lajpat Rai

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October 31, 1928
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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People
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Jahangir II 1920-1948

Portrait of Lala Lajpat Rai

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Lala Lajpat Rai (28 January 1865 — 17 November 1928) was an Indian independence activist. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one of the three members of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894. He died a few weeks after sustaining severe injuries during a baton charge by police when he led a peaceful protest march against the all-British Simon Commission, a commission constituted by the United Kingdom for Indian constitutional reform. 


Early life 


Rai was born on 28 January 1865 in Agarwal family as a son of Urdu and Persian government school teacher Munshi Radha Krishna Agarwal and his wife Gulab Devi at Dhudike in Ludhiana district of Punjab Province. He spent much of his youth in Jagraon. His house still stands tall in Jagraon and houses a library and museum.He also built first educational institute R.K. high school in Jagraon. 


Education 


In the late 1870s, his father was transferred to Rewari, where he had his initial education in Government Higher Secondary School, Rewari, Punjab province, where his father was posted as an Urdu teacher. In 1880, Lajpat Rai joined Government College at Lahore to study law, where he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters, such as Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. While studying at Lahore he was influenced by the Hindu reformist movement of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, became a member of existing Arya Samaj Lahore (founded 1877) and founder-editor of Lahore-based Arya Gazette.


Career:

Law


In 1884, his father was transferred to Rohtak and Rai came along after the completion of his studies at Lahore. In 1886, he moved to Hisar where his father was transferred, and started to practise law and became a founding member of the Bar council of Hisar along with Babu Churamani. In the same year he also founded the Hisar district branch of the Indian National Congress and reformist Arya Samaj with Babu Churamani (lawyer), three Tayal brothers (Chandu Lal Tayal, Hari Lal Tayal and Balmokand Tayal), Dr. Ramji Lal Hooda, Dr. Dhani Ram, Arya Samaj Pandit Murari Lal, Seth Chhaju Ram Jat (founder of Jat School, Hisar) and Dev Raj Sandhir. In 1888 and again in 1889, he had the honor of being one of the four delegates from Hisar to attend the annual session of the Congress at Allahabad, along with Babu Churamani, Lala Chhabil Das and Seth Gauri Shankar. In 1892, he moved to Lahore to practise before the Lahore High Court. To shape the political policy of India to gain independence, he also practised journalism and was a regular contributor to several newspapers including The Tribune. In 1886, he helped Mahatma Hansraj establish the nationalistic Dayananda Anglo-Vedic School, Lahore In 1914, he quit law practise to dedicate himself to the Indian independence movement and travelled to Britain, and then to the United States in 1917. In October 1917, he founded the Indian Home Rule League of America in New York. He stayed in the United States from 1917 to 1920. His early freedom struggle was impacted by Arya Samaj and communal representation. 


Protests against the Simon Commission 


In 1928, the United Kingdom set up the Simon Commission, headed by Sir John Simon to report on the political situation in India. The Commission was boycotted by Indian political parties because it did not include any Indian members, and it was met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led a non-violent march in protest against it and gave a slogan "Simon Go Back". The protesters chanted the slogan and carried black flags. The police superintendent in Lahore, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being severely injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said "I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India". 


Death 


Rai did not fully recover from his injuries and died on 17 November 1928. Doctors thought that Scott's blows had hastened his death. However, when the matter was raised in the British Parliament, the British government denied any role in Rai's death. Bhagat Singh, an HSRA revolutionary who was a witness to the event, swore to avenge the death of Rai, who was a significant leader of the Indian independence movement. He joined other revolutionaries, Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar and Chandrashekhar Azad, in a plot to kill Scott to send a message to the British government. However, in a case of mistaken identity, Bhagat Singh was signalled to shoot on the appearance of John P. Saunders, an assistant superintendent of the Lahore police. He was shot by Rajguru and Bhagat Singh while leaving the District Police Headquarters in Lahore on 17 December 1928. Chanan Singh, a Head Constable who was chasing them, was fatally injured by Azad's covering fire. This case did not stop Bhagat Singh and his fellow-members of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association from claiming that retribution had been exacted. 


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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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