Lala Lajpat Rai (28th January, 1865 – 17th November, 1928)

Lajpat Rai was born on 28 January, 1865, in a Punjabi Hindu family, as a son of Urdu and Persian government School teacher Munshi Radha Krishan and his wife Gulab Devi, in Dhudike. Since childhood, he also had a desire to serve his country.

In 1886, he moved to Hisar and started to practice law and became a founding member of the Bar council of Hisar along with Babu Churamani. He also founded the Hisar district branch of the Indian National Congress and reformist Arya Samaj. To shape the political policy of India to gain independence, he also practiced 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 practice to dedicate himself to the freedom of India.

He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organization. He was of the view that Hindu society needed to fight its own battle with caste system, position of women and untouchability. Lala Lajpat Rai believed that everyone should be allowed to read and learn from the Vedas irrespective of one’s caste or gender.

When the Simon Commission visited Lahore on 30 October, 1928, Lajpat Rai led a non-violent march in protest against it. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. He did not fully recover from his injuries and died on 17 November, 1928.