Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for freedom from the British Raj. The freedom fighter was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (Lion of the Punjab). Rai was born on January 28, 1865 in village Dhudi Ke, in present day Moga district of Punjab, India. He was the eldest son of Munshi Radha Kishan Azad and Gulab Devi. His father had a chequered relationship with Hinduism - having converted to Islam and then reverted back to Hinduism, which had a lasting effect on Rai's attitude towards religions other than Hinduism. He was one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, who fought for, and gave their lives during the Indian independence movement in the first half of the twentieth century. The other two were Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal. Collectively, they were dubbed Lal-Bal-Pal. Rai was also a member of the Hindu Maha Sabha, a forerunner of the current day Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The trio wanted a degree of self-government that was considered radical at the time. They were the first Indian leaders to demand complete political independence. Rai led the Punjab protests against the Amritsar Massacre (1919) and the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919 - 1922).He was repeatedly arrested. Rai however disagreed with Mohandas Gandhi's suspension of the movement due to the Chauri Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party, which was particularly pro-Hindu in voice and policy. He was not only a good orator but also a prolific and versatile writer. His journal Arya Gazette concentrated mainly on subjects related to the Arya Samaj. Bande Mataram and People, contained his inspiring speeches to end oppression by the foreign rulers. He founded the Servants of the People Society, which worked for the freedom movement as well as for social reform in the country. He also wrote an autobiography in English titled The Story of My Life.Lajpat Rai came early under the influence of the dynamic Hindu reformer, Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj. In conjunction with like minded people like Mahatma Hans Raj and Lala Sain Das, he was instrumental in laying the foundations of a strong Arya Samaj presence among the Punjabi Hindu urban populace. A strong believer in leading by example, he himself led a procession to demonstrate against the Simon Commission, which was to prove fatal for him. He was made the target of a brutal lathi charge in which he was injured badly. A meeting was held the same evening where he spoke with such vigour that his words, "Every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British imperialism", became historic. Though he recovered from the fever and pain within three days, yet his health had received a permanent setback and on November 17, 1928, he succumbed to the fatal injuries. The Lajpat Nagar , Lajpat Nagar Central Market, Lala Lajpat Rai Hall of Residence at Indian Institue of Technology Kharagpur and Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology, Moga are named in his honor.
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