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Madanlal Dhingra

Madanlal Dhingra (1887-1909)

Madan Lal Dhingra, one of the heroic young revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives at the altar of India’s freedom, was born in about 1887 in the Amritsar district of the Punjab. He belonged to a highly respectable family. His father was a reputed medical practitioner and his brother a barrister.The family had a long tradition of service and loyalty to the British Raj in India. Madan Lal passed his B.A examination from the Punjab University and sailed for England in 1906 for pursuing higher studies and joined a course in Engineering.

Madan Lal was highly emotional young man and was greatly attracted by the heroic deeds of Kshudiram Bose and Kanailal. In England he came in contact with Vinayak Savarkar who seems to have given him lessons in patriotism.Savarkar brought him into the circle of armed freedom fighters. Madan Lal also formed close contacts with Shyamji Krishna Verma, Har Dayal, Gian Chand and Kore Gakar, who were all associated with the ‘India House’.

Madan Lal was present at a meeting which was addressed by Lala Lajpat Rai during his stay in London. He was also associated with the Indian Home Rule Society and the Abhinava Bharat Society. True to his revolutionary creed, Madan Lal was on the look out for an opportunity when he could shoot an important Englishman. His mind dwelt, during this period, on the British atrocities in India. He spelt out his revolutionary creed in these words: “I attempted to shed English blood intentionally and of purpose as an humble protest against the inhuman transportation and hanging of Indian youths”.

It appears that his revolutionary tendencies came to be known to his parents back in India. His brother wrote to Sir Curzon Wylie, who was an Adviser to the Secretary of the State for India.
Madan Lal greatly resented this move on part of his brother and wrote back protesting against his brother’s attitude. He thought that it was absurd for an Anglo-Indian like Wylie to interfere in the private affairs of an Indian national.

With the help of Savarkar he bought a revolver in London and another Belgian pistol from a private person. He started regular shooting practice and recorded his practice in his note-book. To his mind Sir Curzon Wylie represented the die-hard British ruling community, and he did not forget the approach made by his brother to this official for dissuading him from nationalist activities. His mind was now made up, and on 1 July 1909, he shot Sir Curzon Wylie and Cowas Lalcaca at the annual meeting of the Indian National Association in the Jehangir House of the Imperial Institute.

Madan Lal’s finest hour was his trial in the Sessions Court at the Old Bailey. He made no attempt to conceal his responsibility for shooting Sir Wylie and addressed the judge in the following words when the death-sentence was passed: “Thank you, my Lord, for my country, I thank you. I am proud to have the honor of laying down my humble life for my country. Poor in wealth and intellect, a son like myself has nothing else to offer to the mother but his own blood, and so, I have sacrificed the same on her altar”.

Seldom in the annals of the world’s revolutionaries, do we come across a young man who gave away his life for his country in the flower of his manhood and died smilingly for the cause. Madan Lal had inner spiritual strength and his ideal of service to the motherland was deeply rooted in his religious faith. His whole concept of sacrifice for the sake of the nation came out in sharp relief, when during the period of his trial he summed up the great ideal of his life: “The only lession required in India at present is to learn how to die and the only way to teach it is by dying ourselves. Therefore, I die and glory is my martyrdom”.

Such was the will and testament of this brave Indian who belonged to the line of the most distinguished martyrs who cheerfully laid down their lives for the sake of Mother India. Madan Lal was hanged on 17 August 1909, and thus continued a glorious tradition of young Indians who kissed the scaffold with the name of Bharat Mata on their lips


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