Madan Lal Dhingra

Madan Lal Dhingra: Forgotten revolutionary who inspired freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Sardar Udham Singh

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Background: Early life of Madan Lal Dhingra

The contribution of Madan Lal Dhingra in the freedom struggle of India hasn’t been appreciated. He is considered as the inspiration of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Sardar Udham Singh.

For many years people have ignored the unimaginable contribution of this son of Bharat Mata who shot the British Official Curzon Wyllie (British Indian Army Officer) in London.

Madan Lal Dhingra
Madan Lal Dhingra
Image Source: Wikipedia

Madan Lal Dhingra was born on 18 September 1883 at Amritsar. He was the sixth child of his parents, who were loyal to the British government. He was pained by the Partition of Bengal and several other decisions changed his mind towards the British Raj. Later he developed the idea of Swaraj for India and decided to take part in the freedom struggle.

During his college days (around 1904 CE) he refused to wear British clothes and also motivated his fellow colleagues to do the same. For boycotting the British clothes the college administration fired him. After this, his brother sent him to London to complete his education in the year 1906.

While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University College Madan Lal decided to join the freedom struggle for the Independence of India. This was the time when nationalist movements like Swadeshi generated a sense of nationalism among the educated youth. Madan Lal Dhingra was also influenced by these activities.

He came in contact with the revolutionaries like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Shyamji Krishna Varma the founder of Indian House, and several others. The revolutionaries after the partition of Bengal decided to develop the spirit of nationalism among the Indians living in Britain. For this purpose, another revolutionary whose name was Shyamji Krishna Varma founded the Indian House in 1905 in London.

Due to the formation of India House, the nationalist Indian revolutionaries planned to throw the British Raj from Britain.

Eminent personalities like B.G.Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Madam Bhikaji Cama who later became the leader of nationalist movements in India attended the inauguration ceremony of the Indian House in London.

Involvement in Freedom Struggle

In the year 1907 Madam Lal Dhingra caught the attention of India House and went there. At that moment Veer Savarkar was giving his speech on the situation of the Indians. Madan Lal attended this conference and he was surprised that many Indian students were also present there.

The lightening and dauntless speech of Savarkar had a life-changing effect on Madan Lal Dhingra and immediately the latter decided to stay at India House. At that time V.D.Savarkar along with Niti Sen Das, Mahadev Bapat, Harman Singh Arora, etc was living at India House. It is believed that it was Veer Savarkar who trained Madan Lal in arms.

However, the family of Madan Lal Dhingra was loyal towards the British and they tried everything to stop the former to achieve the goal of Swaraj. Even his (Madan Lal Dhingra) father Gita Mall who was the chief medical officer in Amritsar. It is also believed that Gita Mall was a close friend of Curzon Willey

Madan Lal wanted to take revenge on the British official who tortured the Indians in prison. He considered Curzon Wyllie the main person behind the tyranny and atrocities of the British on Indians.

Assassination Of Curzon Wyllie

On 1 July 1909 when Curzon Wyllie was present in the Imperial Institute Madan Lal Dhingra shot him from a point-blank range. During this incident, a doctor named Cawas Lalkaka tried to come in between Dhingra and Wyllie but the former shot him too.

After this Dhingra wanted to shoot himself but failed as he ran out of bullets and was captured by the British official.

Later Madan Lal was presented in front of the court where he told the judges that he did not regret the assassination of Wyllie.

I don’t want to say anything in defense of myself, but simply to prove the justice of my deed. As for myself, no English law court has got any authority to arrest and detain me in prison or pass a sentence of death on me. That is the reason I did not have counsel to defend me.

It is believed that in his last days Madan Lal requested that his books should be sold and the money gathered from this should be given to the national fund.

On 17 August 1909, Madan Lal Dhingra was hanged by the British at Penton Ville Prison. This was the same prison where another Indian revolutionary i.e. Sardar Udham Singh was hanged.   

Madan Lal Dhingra
Stamp of Forgotten Freedom Fighter Madan Lal Dhingra
Image Source: Wikipedia

After his execution, the British denied the Hindu rites to Madan Lal’s body and buried him. But in year 1976 the British officials returned the remains of Madan Lal Dhingra.

But the sad reality is that his family didn’t support him for this heroic act and they disowned him and even Gandhiji in his newspaper Indian Opinion gave a mixed or unclear opinion. But in the eyes of men like Shyamji Krishna Varma Madan Lal Dhingra had initiated the task which will be responsible for the downfall of Imperialism.

We salute the spirit and patriotism of freedom fighters like Madan Lal Dhingra and many others who laid down their lives for this country.


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