Had Lalaji not fallen to the fatal lathi blows he received in the anti-Simon Commission and continued to lead the nation even afterwards, the anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim stance of the Congress would have been defeated and Bharateeya history would have taken an entirely different course
Lala Lajpat Rai”s father Lala Radha Krishan Agrawal was a practising Muslim. This may be a bombshell to many. But having been educated at a Persian madrasa established by the Britishers and run by a moulvi, he began reciting daily namaz and keeping Ramzan fasts since his childhood. The Quran was part of his life. He did not himself formally convert to Islam because his wife Smt. Gulab Devi, a pious Hindu lady who hailed from a family of ‘Keshdharis’ had threatened him that if he declares himself a Muslim, she would desert him and go to her mother”s along with the children. This he could not bear.
But Arawalji taught the young Lajpat Rai Quran and made him offer namaz and keep the Ramzan fasts. Nevertheless, Lala Lajpat”s stint with Islam did not last his full adolescence. When he was 17 and studying at Lahore, he came in contact of Arya Samaj and became its true follower. This was a great turning point in his life. Arya Samaj made him a true devoted Hindu. Lajpat Rai thus writes in the year 1914 in his autobiography:”The boat of Arya Samaj was to me the boat of Hindu nationalism. In 1882, this boat was small and lonely. But during the last 32 years, the Hindu nationalism has surged and become so powerful as to boast of a strong fleet of ships in which the Arya Samaj has an eminent place.”
The murder of Pt. Lekh Ram, a staunch Arya Samaji leader and a pioneer of the shuddhi (purification) movement in Punjab in 1897 by a fanatic Muslim left an indelible impression on Lala Lajpat Rai. He recalled his service to Hinduism in emotional words and called him a true Arya Samaji martyr.
Lala Lajpat Rai who in short was called ‘Lalaji’ joined the Congress in 1888. But he remained true to the pledges he had made while joining the Arya Samaj. In 1896 and again in 1899, there were famines in the Central Provinces, Rajputana, Punjab, the United Provinces and Kathiawad. Thousands died leaving large number of orphans behind. These hapless children became soft targets for proselytisation for the Christian missionaries. While the entire Congress leadership was indifferent to this problem, Lalaji sent Sardar Kishan Singh, father of Sardar Bhagat Singh, to far off places to fetch the orphaned children and got them rehabilitated in orphanages opened in Punjab for the purpose. This feat was repeated when a calamity in the form of an earthquake struck the Kangra and nearby districts. It was through the good Samaritan efforts of Lalaji that many wealthy Hindus came forward throughout northern Bharat to construct a number of orphanages to meet such contingencies.
During his sojourn abroad (1914-19), Lalaji penned an incisive book on Bharateeya conditions titled Young India. In it, he gave vent to what he thinks about the Bharateeya Muslims. On pages 33 he writes: “Now the separatists among the Muslims have understood that the separatism that they used to espouse is not in the interest of their society in the ultimate analysis. Like their Hindu countrymen, they too have realised that India should be at the centre of their thoughts and allegiance and that there is no dichotomy in being a Muslim by religion and being an Indian in politics.” On page 35 he says that only about 8 millions, out of 70 millions Bharateeya Muslims, are such as to claim non-Bharateeyas as their ancestors.
This was an observation of the situation obtaining during the Tilak era (1899-1919). With this background, Lalaji, along with other CWC members like Swami Shraddhanand, and Shankaracharya (Puri) readily supported the resolution moved by C R Das and seconded by Gandhiji at Nagpur Congress (1920) to lend support to the Khilafat agitation already launched by a section of Bharateeya Muslims to press for restoration of Khalifa (temporal and religious ruler) in Turkey deposed by the British after their victory in the First World War. But the Hindu-Muslim bonhomie sought by this move soon evaporated giving place to naked Islamic aggression against the kafirs (disbelievers), a term that included the Hindus also. The whole country was made to take a bloodbath in the wake of Khilafat agitation.
There were 900 communal riots every year during the first decade of Gandhian era. Swami Shraddhanand and Lalaji came out of Congress. While Swamiji plunged himself in the shuddhi movement, Lalaji formed Independent Congress Party (ICP) along with Madan Mohan Malviya. He also presided over the Hindu Mahasabha at Calcutta in 1925. Even the great lawyer C R Das, who had moved the Khilafat resolution at Nagpur, after an in-depth study of Islamic scriptures, came to the conclusion which he shared with Lalaji that Hindu-Muslim unity was neither feasible nor desirable. Lalaji went about the whole country rousing the Hindus and preaching them self-defence. He observed that the Congress” efforts aimed at Hindu-Muslim unity had only benefitted the latter while putting the former to great disadvantage.
At the Legislative Councils elections in 1926, the ICP, which was dubbed by Moti Lal Nehru as “Lala-Malviya gang”, trounced his Swaraj Party backed by the Congress throughout northern India. Even Moti Lal could make it from Allahabad with difficulty. It is clear that had Lalaji not fallen to the fatal lathi blows he received in the anti-Simon Commission agitation at Lahore (30 November, 1928), and continued to lead the nation even afterwards, the anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim stance of the Congress would have been defeated and Bharateeya history would have taken an entirely different course. By the end of 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai who was popularly called ‘Lion of Punjab’ or ‘Punjab Kesari’ became one of the most popular leader of the masses at the national level. Ajay Mittal