Madan Lal Dhingra-by Prof Chaman Lal
Martyrdom centenary 1909 –2009
Madan Lal Dhingra
The first Indian freedom fighter, who was executed in London
and was a role model of Bhagat Singh
– by Chaman Lal –
Madan Lal Dhingra was born on 18th February 1883 in Amritsar in a very rich family. His father Dr. Ditta Mal retired as Govt. Civil surgeon. He owned twenty one houses in Katra Sher Singh and six bungalows on G.T. Road. Dr. Ditta Mal had shifted from his village Sahiwal in Sargodha district in West Punjab in 1850 and he held 10 bigha land and a haveli in his ancestral village. He was a Rai Saheb the title given by the British Indian Govt. He had six buggies and his car ran on Amritsar roads, the first Indian to have this privilege in the city. He had seven sons and one daughter. Three of his sons were trained medical doctors and three were Barristers-Bar at Law. One of his brother Dr. Bihari lal Dhingra was notorious as Prime Minister of Jind state for his cruelties on people.
It was in such a family that a rebellious son was born, who did physical labour while doing his BSc in Lahore and he got influenced by Pagdi sambhāl Jatta movement of Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh. Later he went to England for higher studies. He took admission in engineering course and came into contact with Shyam ji Krishan Verma and Veer Savarkar. While Savarkar, who came to England on a scholarship established by Verma, also reached in 1906, same year Dhingra had arrived. Both were of same age group, but Savarkar was inclined to Hindutva ideology. Verma was more liberal and rational in his views, but he had to leave for Paris as British Govt. was harassing him a lot. Madan Lal was now under the spell of Savarkar and it was he, who inspired him to shoot Curzon Wyle, who was notorious for using Indians to serve as informers for the British government. Pistol for this purpose was also provided by Savarkar to Madan Lal, who shot Wyle dead in June end 1909. After one and a half month trial, he was executed on 17th August 1909 aged 26. 31 years later Udham Singh followed the same path.
The author is Professor in Centre of Indian Languages Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.