Madan Lal Dhingra- Freedom Fighter

Sonchirri Multimedia Magazine: Featuring Men of Punjabi Origin Series

Madan Lal Dhingra (Punjabi: ਮਦਨ ਲਾਲ ਧੀਂਗੜਾ) (1883–1909)

Madan Lal Dhingra was born on 18 September 1883 in Amritsar. His father was an eye specialist and Civil Surgeon of Amritsar. Some say he was the first Indian doctor to reach that eminent position. He was the sixth of his seven sons. Two of his brothers were doctors, one was an MRCP (1895); two other brothers were barristers. Madan Lal was married and had a son.

Dhingra studied at Amritsar in MB Intermediate College until 1900. He then went to Lahore to study at the Government College University. In 1904 he led a student protest against the principal's order to have the college blazer made of cloth imported from England. Dhingra was expelled from the college. At that time Dhingra was a student in the Master of Arts program. He was under the influence of the nationalist Swadeshi'' movement. In 1906, Dhingra departed for England to enroll at University College, London, to study Mechanical Engineering. He came into contact with noted Indian independence and political activists Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma, who were impressed by his perseverance and intense patriotism which turned his focus to the freedom struggle.

Dhingra decided to kill Curzon Wyllie. Curzon Wylie had joined the British Army in 1866; 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 the revolutionaries. Curzon Wyllie was said to have been a close friend of Dhingra's father. On the evening of 1 July 1909, When Sir Curzon Wyllie, was leaving the hall with his wife, Dhingra fired five shots right at his face, four of which hit their target. Cowasji Lalkaka, a Parsee doctor who tried to save Sir Curzon, died of Dhingra's sixth and seventh bullets, which he fired because Lalkaka had come between them.

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 he did not regret killing Curzon Wyllie, as he had played his part in order to set India free from the inhuman British rule, and as revenge for the inhumane killings of Indians by the British Government in India. He was sentenced to death. After the judge announced his verdict, Dhingra is said to have stated: "I am proud to have the honor of laying down my life for my country. But remember, we shall have our time in the days to come". He was hanged on 17 August 1909 at Pentonville Prison. He walked smiling from the Dock."
He was an inspiration at the time for revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad although Gandhi condemned Dhingra's actions.

(Please note: We intend to add profiles of the noted men of Punjabi origin into this series. We obtain information from various internet sites, books, magazines and people. If anyone claims for any information to be untrue based on proofs, we shall take it down upon notification)