He was a lion amongst men and named as such ! He was fearless and took on the British without a trace of fear. He also died because of the beatings by the British police when he was peacefully demonstrating against them … one amongst the trio, Bal-Pal-Lal and the one after whom my favourite shopping place in Delhi is named – Lajpat Nagar. No prizes for guessing am talking of Lala Lajpat Rai, the Punjab Kesri, a true icon from our freedom struggle.
Lala Lajpat Rai said “Simon, go back” and was fatally beaten up for that, breathing his last on Nov 17, 1928. His death created three other heroes, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. They vowed to avenge his death and ended up being hanged by the British. How they went to their death, heads held high, fearlessly, is another story for another day.
Punjab Kesri’s birthday is on Jan 28th. Some token celebrations take place, but his contributions deserve a bigger celebration. He was not a Punjabi, belonged to the Aggarwal community – but is called the Punjab Kesri, we had no differences then, but why now ??
Lalaji was well travelled and quite egalitarian in his outlook. He was one of the few leaders of the freedom movement who had visited America. He founded the Indian home rule league of America in New York, in 1917. He did not believe rampant capitalism was the answer… he was an early advocate of conscious capitalism, just that the term hadn’t been coined then.
He set up several schools, the Punjab National Bank and a hospital. Looks like someone who thought ahead, about what would be needed in a free nation and not just the freedom movement. A writer, a rational revolutionary, a well travelled man, a fearless fighter and someone who was a true patriot …. Even as I write these words, I feel energized and want to go do something for my country, just imagine when he was alive, what a forceful presence he would have been. Punjab Kesri, a King amongst leaders !!
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