Lala Lajpat Rai: (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928) was an Indian freedom fighter. He played a pivotal role in the Indian Independence movement. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894.
In 1880, Lajpat Rai joined Government College at Lahore to study Law, where he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters, such as Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. He was influenced by the Hindu reformist movement of Swami Dayanand Sarasvati, became a member of existing Arya Samaj Lahore (founded 1877) and founder editor of Lahore-based Arya Gazette.
In 1914, he quit law practice to dedicate himself to the freedom of India and went to Britain in 1914 and then to the United States in 1917. In October 1917, he founded the Indian Home Rule League of America in New York. He stayed in the United States from 1917 to 1920.
He was elected President of the Indian National Congress in the Calcutta Special Session of 1920. In 1921, he founded Servants of the People Society, a non-profit welfare organisation, in Lahore, which shifted its base to Delhi after partition, and has branches in many parts of India.
In 1928, the British government set up the Commission, headed by Sir John Simon, to report on the political situation in India. The Indian political parties boycotted the Commission, because it did not include a single Indian in its membership, and it met with country-wide protests. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lajpat Rai led silent march in protest against it.
The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi (baton) charge the protesters and personally assaulted Rai. Despite being injured, Rai subsequently addressed the crowd and said, “I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India”.
He did not fully recover from his injuries and died on 17 November 1928 of a heart attack.
His death is celebrated as Martyrs’ Day in Odisha.
In 1927, Lajpat Rai established a trust in her memory to build and run a tuberculosis hospital for women, reportedly at the location where his mother, Gulab Devi, had died of tuberculosis in Lahore. This became known as the Gulab Devi Chest Hospital and opened on 17 July 1934. Now the Gulab Devi Memorial hospital is one of the biggest hospital of present Pakistan which services over 2000 patients at a time as in patients.