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INTERESTING FACTS: THE STORY OF INDIAN REVOLUTIONARY MADAN LAL DHINGRA

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Madan Lal Dhingra (18 February 1883 — 17 August 1909) was an Indian revolutionary, pro-independence activist. While studying in England, he assassinated William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, a British official.

Early life

    Madan Lal Dhingra was born on 18 February 1883 in Amritsar, India, in an educated and affluent Punjabi Hindu Arora family. His father, Dr. Ditta Mal Dhingra, was a civil surgeon. Madan Lal was one of seven children (six sons and one daughter). All six sons, including Dhingra, studied abroad.

    Dhingra, initially studied at Amritsar in MB Intermediate College until 1900. He then went to Lahore to study at the Government College University. Here, he was influenced by the incipient nationalist movement, which at that time was about seeking Home Rule rather than independence. Dhingra was especially troubled by the poverty in India. He studied the causes of Indian poverty and famines extensively, and felt that the key issues in seeking solutions to these problems lay in Swaraj (self-government) and Swadeshi. He found that the industrial and finance policies of the colonial government were designed to suppress local industry and favour the purchase of British imports, which he felt was a major reason for the lack of economic development in India. Dhingra embraced with fervour the Swadeshi Movement, which was about encouraging Indian industry and entrepreneurship while boycotting British (and other foreign) goods.

    In 1904, as a student in the Master of Arts, Dhingra led a student protest against the principal’s order to have the college blazer made of cloth imported from Britain. He was expelled from the college for this. His father, who held a high, well-paying position in the government had a poor opinion about the agitationists. He told Madan Lal to apologise to the college management, and not participate in such activities again, and prevent his expulsion. Dhingra refused, and chose not to go home to discuss matters with his father, but to take up a job and live as per his own wishes.

    Thus, following his expulsion, Dhingra took a job as a clerk at Kalka at the foot of the Shimla hills, in a firm that ran a Tonga carriage service to transport British families to Shimla for the summer months. But he was dismissed there for insubordination, he then worked as a factory labourer. Here, he attempted to organise a union, but was sacked for the attempt. He moved to Bombay and worked there for some time, again at low-levels. By now, his family was seriously worried about him, and his elder brother, Dr. Bihari Lal, compelled him to go to Britain to continue his higher education. Dhingra finally agreed, and in 1906, he departed for Britain to enroll at University College, London, to study Mechanical Engineering. His elder brother paid for his expenses.

With Savarkar

    Dhingra arrived in London a year after the foundation of Shyamaji Krishna Varma’s India House in 1905. This organisation was a meeting place for Indian revolutionaries located in Highgate. Dhingra came in contact with noted Indian independence and political activists Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma, who were impressed by his perseverance and patriotism that turned Dhingra’s focus to the independence movement. Savarkar believed in a revolution and inspired Dhingra’s admiration in the cult of assassination. Later, Dhingra stayed away from India House and was known to frequent a shooting range on Tottenham Court Road. Later he joined Abhinav Bharat Mandal, a secretive society, founded by Savarkar and his brother Ganesh.

    During this period, Savarkar, Dhingra, and other student activists were outraged by the 1905 Partition of Bengal. Dhingra was disowned for his political activities by his father Gitta Mall, who was the Chief Medical Officer in Amritsar, who published his decision in the newspapers.

Curzon Wyllie’s assassination

    Several weeks before assassinating Curzon Wyllie, Dhingra had tried to kill George Curzon, Viceroy of India. He had also planned to assassinate the ex-Governor of Bengal, Bampfylde Fuller, but was late for the meeting the two were to attend and could not carry out his plan. Dhingra then decided to kill Curzon Wyllie. Curzon Wylie had joined the British Army in 1866 and the Indian Political Department in 1879. He had earned distinction in a number of locations including Central India and above all in Rajputana where he rose to the highest rank in the Service. In 1901 he was selected to be Political Aide-de-Camp to the Secretary of State for India. He was also the head of the Secret Police and had been trying to obtain information about Savarkar and his fellow revolutionaries. Curzon Wyllie was said to have been a close friend of Dhingra’s father.

    On the evening of 1 July 1909, Dhingra, along with a large number of Indians and Englishmen had gathered to attend the annual ‘At Home’ function hosted by the Indian National Association at the Imperial Institute. When Sir Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India, was leaving the hall with his wife, Dhingra fired five shots right at his face, four of which hit their target. Cawas Lalcaca (or Lalkaka), a Parsi doctor who tried to save Sir Curzon, died of Dhingra’s sixth and seventh bullets, which he fired because Lalcaca had come between them.

    Dhingra’s suicide attempt failed and he was overpowered. He was arrested immediately by the police.

Trial

    Dhingra was tried in the Old Bailey on 23 July. He represented himself during his trial but did not recognize the legitimacy of the court. He stated that the assassination was done in the name of Indian independence and that his actions were motivated by patriotism. He also stated that he had not intended to kill Cawas Lalcaca. He was sentenced to death. After the judge announced his verdict, Dhingra is said to have said: “I am proud to have the honour of laying down my life for my country. But remember, we shall have our time in the days to come.” Madan Lal Dhingra was hanged on 17 August 1909 at Pentonville Prison. He also made a further statement, which is rarely mentioned.

Statement of Dhingra before Pronouncement of Verdict

    “I do not want to say anything in defence 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 sentence of death on me. That is the reason I did not have any counsel to defend me. I maintain that if it is patriotic for an Englishman to fight against the Germans if they were to occupy this country, it is much more justifiable and patriotic in my case to fight against the English. I hold the English people responsible for the murder of 80 million Indian people in the last fifty years, and they are also responsible for taking away £100,000,000 every year from India to this country. I also hold them responsible for the hanging and deportation of my patriotic countrymen, who did just the same as the English people here are advising their countrymen to do.

And the Englishman who goes out to India and gets, say, £100 a month, that simply means that he passes a sentence of death on a thousand of my poor countrymen, because these thousand people could easily live on this £100, which the Englishman spends mostly on his frivolities and pleasures. Just as the Germans have no right to occupy this country, so the English people have no right to occupy India, and it is perfectly justifiable on our part to kill the Englishman who is polluting our sacred land.

    While he was being removed from the court, he said to the Chief Justice – “Thank you, my Lord. I don’t care. I am proud to have the honour of laying down my life for the cause of my motherland.”

    After Dhingra went to the gallows, The Times of 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.”

    A stamp was released on Madan Lal Dhingra in 1992 by Government of India. After his execution, Dhingra’s body was denied Hindu rites and buried by the British authorities. His family having disowned him, the authorities refused to turn over the body to Savarkar. Dhingra’s coffin was accidentally found while authorities searched for the remains of Shaheed Udham Singh, and repatriated to India on 12 December 1976. His remains are kept in one of the main squares, which has been named after him, in the city of Akola in Maharashtra. Dhingra is widely remembered in India today, and was an inspiration at the time for revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our Publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai and Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida, India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh. Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

Short stories and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; Indica, 15.8.20; The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; Happy Days, November 15, 2020; The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15,2020; Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021; Three Refugees, March 15, 2021; Rise and Fall of Ajatashatru, March 31, 2021; Reformed Ruler, May 15, 2021;

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK REVIEW: THE RSS–ICONS OF THE INDIAN RIGHT by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

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    It is a well-researched book published in the year 2019. The publishers are Westland Publications, Chennai. The main book comprises of some 405 pages and then you have the end notes and the index. The price of this book is Rs 799. Before I touch the book, let me brief you, about the author.

    Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay began his career in journalism in the early 1980s and is best known for his reportage on the rise of Hindu organisations and their politics. He writes columns for several newspapers and web portals, and is also, a well-known face, on the Indian television news channel, as a political commentator.

    His other books include the best-selling Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times; and Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984. Nilanjan is an unabashed college drop-out. He lives with his family in Delhi-NCR.

    The subject book comprehensively explains the genesis of RSS. In present times RSS is almost close to an untouchable organisation for some in India and even abroad. But why, is the moot question. On the face of it, RSS has been, an apolitical organisation in many ways, so to say. But why and how did this right wing organisation become pan India. Was it to save the Hindus and unite them against the onslaught of Muslims primarily, and why forget the British tyranny against Hindu culture—primarily the caste system. The book explains it all through the individual accounts of eleven RSS icons that the author goes on to detail. In a nutshell can one say RSS was a befitting counterweight to the Muslim League? Figure it out for yourself by reading the book. Taking the cue from the book further.

        In the history of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is known for the domineering presence of Konkanastha or Chitpavan Brahmins, it is probably one of the biggest rarities of fate that its founder was born into a family of migrants from a village in Telangana.

    In the early decades of the 19th century, several landless Brahmin families who made their living as priests in Nizamabad district, were forced to flee their homes under the Mughal rule. Many chose to settle in Nagpur, a city that was ruled by Maratha Bhonsle kings, mainly because, the dispensation, supported Vedic learning. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s great-great-grandfather was among those who had made the city his home. Gradually, these immigrant families from Andhra Pradesh began to assimilate, and not only did they adapt to Maharashtrian customs, but also began looking up to local historical icons as their very own.

    The book gives a good account of partition and the initial Bengal links of some of the RSS leaders such as Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Golwalkar aka Guruji that goes to show how Bengal was indeed the think-tank of that India. The book unearths certain facts that we’ll never venture to find out in our day-to-day life. One of the peculiarities of national politics at that time was the practice of simultaneous membership in multiple organisations. For instance both the Indian National Congress and Hindu Mahasabha boasted of common members.

    RSS was formed for the promotion and safeguard of Hindus. And at the time of partition when refugees entered India from Pakistan RSS did stellar work in looking after them in terms of food, shelter and security. These refugees soon started off with small trade but they didn’t snap their relationship with the RSS, rather they became members of RSS. And did you know that Veer Savarkar was not a member of BJP’s erstwhile political avatar the Jana Sangh, nor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but leaders of the Sangh Parivar, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, always held him in great esteem.

    Yes a fog of mystery does surround the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—or RSS even today—the largest cadre-based organisation in the world. The political tow-chain that goes on between the RSS and its political offshoot earlier Jan Sangh and now BJP is covered in the individual accounts quite comprehensively which is otherwise a mystery for the common man of India.

    The author chronicles the personal and political journeys of the most important men (and a woman) of the Hindu Right-wing, digging up, little-known, but revealing facts about them. Let me narrate a few of them only to build your interest in this book.

    KESHAV BALIRAM HEDGEWAR: The founder of the RSS, and its first sarsanghchalak, was called ‘Cocaine’ as a young revolutionary, who transported subversive literature for a group back home in Nagpur. Although, Keshav was originally a Brahmin from Telangana, he had little trouble in securing entry into the subversive world of Bengali radicals.

    VINAYAK DAMODAR SAVARKAR: This leading light of the Hindu Right had once invited the vegetarian Mahatma Gandhi to dinner and had told him that unless one consumed animal protein, one would, not be able to challenge the might of the British. Well … few had faced the tyrannical wrath of the British Raj than Veer Savarkar having spent an aeon in Kalapani—so was it a reaction to the deep agonies that he suffered in the jail?

    MADHAV SADASHIV GOLWALKAR aka ‘GURUJI’: The iconic ‘hermit-ideologue’, whose appointment as sarsangchalak was challenged by many in the RSS itself, had maintained, the only work that needs to be done is to unite and organise fragmented Hindu society into a large corporate entity through the daily work of RSS.

    SYAMA PRASAD MOOKERJEE: A brilliant academic-statesman who became part of Nehru’s Cabinet. Mookerjee had several differences with the prime minister. He once asked Nehru: ‘Are Kashmiris Indians first and Kashmiris next, or are they Kashmiris first, second and third, and not Indians at all?’

    BALASAHEB DEORAS: This towering pracharak had a strong dislike for religious rituals, and referred to himself as a ‘Communist’ within the RSS—‘it is highly debatable if he believed in God, or if, in any way he needed Him.’

    DEENDAYAL UPADHYAY: The man who propounded the ‘philosophy’ of integral Humanism was opposed to the partition of India and recommended that, ‘if we want unity, we must adopt the yardstick of Indian nationalism, which is Hindu nationalism, and Indian culture, which is Hindu culture.’

    These and other leaders, including Vijaya Raje Scindia, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Askok Singhal and Bal Thackeray, are all covered in the book. Through the individual stories of the organisation’s tallest leaders, a larger picture emerges. In spite of a three-time ban on RSS in a multicultural and secular India—and despite the RSS’ insistence that it has no truck with electoral politics—the group is, and will be, the hand that’ll always rock the BJP’s cradle. The author by and large maintains a fair balance between criticism and appreciation of the RSS which I liked. He has done a good amount of homework and has got inscriptions from various sources which only adds to the flavour of the book. Yes narration is in long and at times bulky.

    Last but not the least, even if you fear reading a thick book, you could still read it as, one icon at a time, which will not make it monotonous. The chapters are self-sufficient. Language is plain quite easy to understand with occasional verbose. I would give the book seven out of ten. It makes an informative read.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****