Saturday, August 19, 2017







During my posting at Amritsar , I came to know many things about Madan Lal Dhingra, the unsung freedom fighter who was executed by British rulers on 17th August,  1909 .  Dhingra  was studying mechanical engineering in UK at that time. His father ,Dr.  Ditta Mal  Dhingra  was a  reputed eye surgeon and CMO of Amritsar city  who had been conferred the title of "Rai Sahib "by the British government . Dr. Ditta Mal  had  luxurious  Buggies  driven by horses to ride . He owned   the only imported car   driven by an Indian  in Amritsar city  during those days . The Dhingras owned  several houses in Amritsar city apart from many  Kanals of  agricultural land in Sahiwal ( Sargodha district ) where from the family had moved to Amritsar .

Madan Lal had seven siblings: six brothers and a sister.  Madan Lal’s eldest brother, Kundan Lal, had cordial  relations with Sir Curzon Wyllie- an official of the British government who was eventually  assassinated by Madan Lal Dhingra .  Madan Lal Dhingra's  brothers were highly educated.  Mohan Lal and Behari Lal earned their respective degrees in medicine, Chaman Lal was a Bar-at-Law from London, Chuni Lal served a Munsif in Jammu, Kundan Lal was a businessman, and the youngest Bhajan Lal pursued Bar-at-law in London. Except Madan Lal, all the family members were staunch British loyalists .

While studying  in Lahore, young Madan Lal  got influenced by the "Pagdi Sambhal Jatta",   a movement started by   Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh, uncle of Bhagat Singh.In 1904, when Madan Lal  Dhingra  was doing a Master of Arts programme, he was barred from the college because he protested against the principal’s order for wearing blazers made from the imported cloth.

Dr Ditta Mal Dhingra did not like his son's association with revolutionaries of that time.  A Fargati / disowning notice had also been got published by the father in leading newspapers at that time.  His father even  stopped  spending money on him and Madan Lal did odd jobs to earn his  living . He even became a Tongawalla and a labourer at Bombay port. 

Even under all  these  hardships ,the  flame of  patriotism  did not extinguish itself inside his soul . It now  burnt more vigorously  .

His elder brother , who had become Diwan of Jindh State , brought him back to his father  who   had already   decided to send him out of the country so   as to cut him from his revolutionary friends .After  Young Madan  Lal moved to UK to study engineering , he  got more involved in his  revolutionary activities and  freedom movement of the country .In England, he got his focus on the freedom struggle tuned after meeting Shyamji Krishna Varma and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar .

in 1908, when  Khudiram Bose , Kanhaiyalal Datt and Satendra Bose were hanged, Dhingra turned restless and  decided to take revenge . He shot dead  Sir Curzon Wyllie . He was caught , tried and executed in  London . His family refused to accept his  body .  After his sacrifice, the family disowned him totally.

Sir Curzon Wyllie had served  British Raj in various capacities  during his stay in India. He was posted in Amritsar as well. He also served as   Aide-de-Camp to the Secretary of State for India.  Later in England, he was was made the head of the Secret Police. He  had also been keeping an  eye on the activities of the Indian  revolutionaries in UK.

After Dhingra went to the gallows, the Times, London wrote an editorial (24 July, 1909) titled 'Conviction of Dhingra". The editorial said, "The nonchalance displayed by the assassin was of a character, which is happily unusual in such trials in this country. He asked no questions. He maintained a defiance of studied indifference. He walked smiling from the Dock." The last words spoken by Dhingra were  as under:-

"My only prayer to God is – “May I be reborn of the same mother and May I redie in the same sacred cause, till the cause is successful, and she stands free for the good of humanity and to the glory of God – Bande Matram.”

When Dhingra shot dead Curzon Wyllie ,his brother Bhajan Lal was in London studying Law at Grays Inn. Four days after the event Bhajan Lal attended the public meeting to condemn Madan Lal. On account of that, Madan Lal refused to see Bhajan Lal when the latter visited him in the Brixton prison. Soon after their brother was hanged, his brothers dropped the surname Dhingra, with the exception of Dr Bihari Lal. As their first names ended in Lal they adopted that as the surname. e.g Chaman Lal Dhingra became Chaman Lal. ( In a similar manner, many Indian freedom fighters changed their names so that their relations would not be identified and harassed by the British authorities.

Almost all governments ignored this great son of Punjab. Even to this day his own family members have not come out from this disowning mode. I have not heard them say that 'He made us feel proud'.

Well known music director Madan Mohan Kohli or Madan Mohan  was always feeling proud for having been  married to Dhingra's niece from Amritsar. Madan ji would proudly declare his relationship with Madan Lal Dhingra's  family from Amritsar.

And Dr Ditta Mal Dhingra was a personal P
physician of Maharaja Partap Singh of J&K.

Madan Lal Dhingra's body  was not given  a cremation as per his religious beliefs but was hurriedly  buried. Dhingra's coffin was exhumed on 12 December 1976 in the presence of Natwar Singh, then Acting High Commisioner for India. This coffin too was flown back to India.

It was P V Narsimha Rao ( The then PM of india ) who took some personal interest and got a postal stamp released in his memory in 1992.  In 2009, the Parkash Singh Badal government celebrated the centenary of Dhingra’s martyrdom.

Capt Amrinder Singh CM (Punjab) held a grand function at Amritsar to commemorate Madam Lal Dhingra's martyrdom . The government also opened a park in his name near the new bus stand in Amritsar. The BJP coalition  government installed an impressive statue of Dhingra in the heart of Amritsar city.

Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra Smarak Samiti, headed by former health minister Prof. Laxmikant Chawla, has been mobilising opinion for making of a memorial for the past many years.However, the government has yet to procure the land . The  Municipal Corporation (MC) , Amritsar  had  initiated the process to procure the land where  the real estate  buyer from Amritsar had demolished the original house of Dhingra family after purchasing it in  2012.

I conclude this post with my favourite poem "Pushp Ki Abhilasha'  written by Makhan Lal Chaturvedi...

( Pushp ki abhilasha...)

"Chah Nahin Mai Surbala Ke
Gehnon mein goontha jaaon
Chah nahin premi maala mein
Bindh, pyari ko lalchaaon
Chah nahin  samraton ke
Shav par, hey hari daala jaaon
Chah nahin devon ke sar par
Chadoon, bhagya par Itraoon
Mujhey tod lena banmaali,
Us path par tum dena phaink
Matra bhoomi par sheesh chadaaney,
Jis path jaayein veer Anek.."

(Makhanlal Chaturvedi...)

My English rendering   would be like this:

(A  Flower's Ambition )

(Never do I desire to become
the part of  a  celestial nymph's jewellery ,
Never do I desire to be the part of a lover's  garland,
To allure and tempt my beloved with my charms.
Never do I desire to be  the part of  the  wreaths placed on bodies of  emperors and monarchs .
Never do I desire to be used to decorate the  heads of deity and gods ,
and feel proud of my good luck .
O Gardner!
pluck me and throw me on the path
 trodden by  many brave and courageous soldiers 
on their march to sacrifice their lives for my motherland .)

(Avtar Mota)

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