Mahatma Gandhi on Lala Lajpat Rai

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Lala Lajpat Rai is dead. Long live Lalaji. Men like Lalaji cannot die so long as the sun shines in the Indian sky. Lalaji means an institution. From his youth he made of his country’s service a religion. And his patriotism was no narrow creed. He loved his country because he loved the world. His nationalism was international. Hence his hold on the European mind. He claimed a large circle of friends in Europe and America. They loved him because they knew him. ..It is impossible to think of a single public movement in which Lalaji was not to be found. His love of service was insatiable. He founded educational institutions; he befriended the suppressed classes; poverty wherever found claimed his attention. He surrounded young men with extraordinary affection. No young man appealed to him in vain for help. In the political field he was indispensable. He was fearless in the expression of his views. He suffered for it when suffering had not become customary or fashionable. His life was an open book. His extreme frankness often embarrassed his friends, if it also confounded his critics. But he was incorrigible...(Mahatma Gandhi. Young India. November 1928)

This county is poor, there is trouble within it and repression from without, there seems to be deep darkness all round and yet it appears to be fortunate. The symbol of this good fortunate is the assault on Lalaji by the police in Lahore. Lalaji was not at fault. The procession which he was leading also was not at fault. Lalaji had full control over the procession...decision was to offer peaceful opposition to the Simon Commission when it arrived...As this demonstration and the people’s determination irritated the police, they decided to teach Lalaji a lesson and assaulted him....According to newspaper reports, the police spared no pains to demonstrate their skill in wielding the lathi. Lalaji has emphatically stated that the statement made by the police in their own defence is absolutely untrue...The attention of the public and that of the world is attracted only when warrior leaders such as Lalaji has drawn and will yet draw a great deal more attention than would have been drawn by the death of an unimportant individual...If the atrocities of the government continue despite the innocence of the people, the ship of the government will sink on its own accord...I congratulate Lalaji. He has been well known for many years as the “Lion of the Punjab”. The government’s police have themselves helped on this occasion to add to his prestige and the above assault is an addition to the many services he had rendered to the country...(Mahatma Gandhi. Navajivan. November 1928)