Sunday, September 6, 2009

…who was hanged on London in the year 1909 at the tender age of 26.

Dhingra was no ordinary criminal.

He belonged to a distinguished family from Amritsar.

His father, Ditta Mal, retired as a government civil surgeon and had 21 houses in Katra Sher Singh and six bungalows on G.T. Road….He held the title of Rai Saheb, given by the British government.

…He had seven sons and a daughter. Three of his sons were trained medical doctors and three were barristers-bar at law.

On July 1, 1909, Dhingra shot Curzon Wyllie, a British MP in an act that is widely perceived as one of the first acts of revolution in the struggle for India’s independence.

He was caught at the scene of the shooting after being prevented from turning the pistol on himself…and after a short trial, was sentenced to death.

In a statement just before he was hanged, he is reported to have said:

…Poor in health 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. The only lesson required in India at present is to learn how to die, and the only way to teach it is by dying ourselves. My only prayer to God is that I may be re-born of the same mother and I may re-die in the same sacred cause till the cause is successful. Vande Mataram!

After he was sentenced to be hanged, the Viceroy of India apparently sent a telegram to the Secretary of State for India (on 3 August 1909) mentioning: “Please do not send Dhingra’s ashes to India.”

We do know that Dhingra’s body was not cremated but was buried within the prison walls (bear in mind that his family had already disowned him due to his anti-British activities).

The coffin was exhumed in 1976 (after being apparently discovered by accident), flown to New Delhi and then taken by a public procession to Amritsar where he was cremated… (this bit of information from an email by Dr V S Godbole; unfortunately I have no other references).

As you go about your work and other activities today, please take a moment to remember the brave and do share the story with others.


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