The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
The Prison Terms and Solving Communal Problems of Lala Lajapat Rai
The Prison Terms
Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress. He was part of the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. The other two members of the trio were Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. They formed the extremist faction of the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate one led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Lalaji actively participated in the struggle against partition of Bengal. Along with Surendra Nath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurorbindo Ghosh, he galvanized Bengal and the nation in a vigorous campaign of Swadeshi. Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating “turmoil” in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months and was released on November 11, 1907.
During 1920-21, Government was finding it difficult to face the intense Non-cooperation Movement growing day by day. Lala Lajpat Rai’s organizing ability and heroic speeches were inspiring. All over the country there were agitations and hartals and the government was shaken. Lalaji became a dangerous person in the eyes of the government. In December 1921 Lalaji was arrested.
The other leaders of the movement, Motilal Nehru and Chittaranjan Das were also imprisoned. Lalaji was sentenced to 18 months’ rigorous imprisonment. Because of the people’s protest and the pleadings by lawyers he was released after two months. It was one o’clock in the night when he was released. When he came to the gate he was arrested again. He was tried for another offence and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for two years.
While in jail he fell ill due to the atrocities of British officers and his health deteriorated. When the public learnt this, a vigorous agitation was launched throughout the country for his release. The government had to release him under pressure. Lalaji then went to Solan to improve his health.
Solving Communal Problems
As soon as his health improved Lala Lajpat Rai became active again. He joined the ‘Swaraj Party’ of Motilal Nehru. He was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly. By that time the Hindu Muslim unity move shaped by Mahatma Gandhi had failed. Lalaji volunteered this responsibility to himself.
Lalaji had to turn his attention to communal problems. He was himself influenced by the Arya Samaj and was a staunch supporter of the Hindu dharma. But he was aware of the need for Hindu-Muslim unity in the fight for Swaraj. The Non-Cooperation Movement was crumbling and ill-feeling among different communities was reaching dangerous proportions. During the 1924 Hindu-Muslim riots Hindus suffered much in Kohat of North-West Frontier Province. In two days of riots not only were 150 Hindus killed but also 400 persons had also to be shifted to Rawalpindi. Mahatma Gandhi undertook a fast.
There was a conference to bring about friendship among the followers of different religions and a national council was set up. But the problem was not solved. The Kohat tragedy pained and disappointed Lalaji. He had to stand by the helpless Hindu community. To counteract associations formed by the Muslims, Lalaji tirelessly fostered movements for ‘Purification of Hinduism’ and ‘Organization of Hinduism’. As long ago as 1924 Lalaji expressed the fear that Muslims might want a division of India and demand a separate state for themselves. This amply shows his far-sightedness.
He presided over the Hindu Mahasabha held at Calcutta in 1925. The speech he made about the Hindu religion and the necessity to uphold it woke up the Hindus. In 1926, Lalaji participated in the International Labour Conference held in Geneva as a representative of workers in India. He also took part in similar conferences held in Britain and France later.