Profiles of Personalities: Lala Lajpat Rai

Of the triumvirate – Lal-Bal-Pal ( Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal  Gangadhar  Tilak and  Bipin Chandra  Pal)  of  India’s freedom movement against the British colonial rule, Lala Lajpat Rai was a multi-faceted personality and led a life of ceaseless activity dedicated to a selfless service to the nation.

  • He was drawn into one of the most creative movements of the revitalization of 19th century India, Arya Samaj, founded and led by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Later on, he set up a Dayanand Anglo-Vedic school in Lahore.
  • As early as 1897, he had founded the Hindu Relief Movement to provide help to the famine -stricken people and thus preventing them falling into the clutches of the missionaries.
  • In the two articles he wrote for the Kayastha Samachar (1901), he called for technical education and industrial self-help. In the wake of the Swadeshi movement (anti-partition of Bengal. 1905-8), when “the idea of a national education caught the imagination of the whole of India”, it was Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who “propagated the idea”.
  • He went to set up the National College in Lahore, where Bhagat Singh studied.
  • When the agitation against increased irrigation rates and higher land-revenue began in Punjab, it was led by the Indian Patriots Association led by Ajit Singh (uncle of Bhagat Singh) and Lajpat Rai would often address their meetings.
  • For his growing involvement in the freedom movement, he was given the toughest prison sentences in Mandalay (now Myanmar) in 1907 without trial.
  • He also led the protest against the horrendous massacre of Jalianwalla Bagh.
  • He visited USA and Japan where he kept in touch with the Indian revolutionaries. In England, he also became a member of the British Labour party.
  • In recognition of his outstanding role in the freedom movement, he was elected President of the Indian National Congress at the Calcutta session (1920).
  • As he took much interest in the condition of the working class people, he was also elected as the President of the All India Trade Union Congress.
  • Gifted with a perceptive mind, he was a prolific writer and authored several works like
    • “Unhappy India”,
    • “Young India: An Interpretation”,
    • “History of Arya Samaj”,
    • “England’s Debt to India” and
    • a series of popular biographies on Mazzini, Garibaldi and Swami Dayanand.
  • As a visionary and man with a mission, he founded the Punjab National Bank, the Lakshmi Insurance Company and the Servants of the Peoples Society at Lahore.
  • A mass leader, he led from the front. While leading a protest march against the all-White Simon Commission in Lahore, he was brutally assaulted by the British authorities and was seriously injured which caused the untimely death of this towering freedom fighter in Lahore on 17 November 1928. 
  • It was to avenge this brutality Bhagat Singh took up arms along with and paid the ultimate price.
The Article was orignally written by me for ForumIAS Portal
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