Lala Lajpat Rai was an author, lawyer, revolutionary, journalist and politician from the British Indian era. Born in an Agarwal Jain family on January 28 1865, Rai’s life shaped from being an ordinary student, to an observer of the struggle of Indian Independence, a lawyer and later to an active member of the Indian National Congress.
During his lifetime, Rai pioneered various freedom struggle movements. That apart, being an advocate of education, he founded and co-founded educational institutions for Indian students. In 1927, he had established a trust in his mother’ memory that would set up a tuberculosis hospital for women. In 1934, Gulab Devi Chest Hospital was established by the name of Rai’s mother at the very location she died.
As we celebrate the 157th birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai, here are 10 things about him that everyone should know and remember:
- He was popularly known as the Punjab Kesari.
- He was one of the pioneers of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate advocating Swadeshi movement during the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal in 1905.
- During his law education at Lahore in the late 1870s, he was influenced by Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s Hindu reformist movement Hindu and became a member of Arya Samaj Lahore. He later took charges as the founder-editor of Lahore-based Arya Gazette.
- In 1886, he became a founding member of Bar council of Hisar and founded the the Hisar district branch of Indian National Congress.
- He also helped Mahatma Hansraj establish the nationalistic Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) School, Lahore.
- He quit practising law in 1914 and dedicated himself to the Indian Independence Struggle movement.
- In 1920, he was elected the President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session.
- In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit social service organisation that was devoted to enlist and train national missionaries for service to the country.
- In 1928, he led a non-violent march protesting against the Simon Commission. On Sir John Simon’s orders, the police lathi charged the protestors and assaulted Rai. Despite severe injuries, Rai delivered his speech at the protest saying, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”. However, his injuries never recovered completely and he passed away on November 17, 1928.
- In 1929, a silent film titled Punjab Kesari was directed by Indian actor-director Homi Master. The Government of India’s Film Division also made a documentary fil about Lala Lajpat Rai.