Shaheed Madan Lal Dhingra was an Indian revolutionary independence activist. While studying in England he assassinated William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, a British official.
Madan Lal Dhingra was born in Amritsar, India, in an educated and affluent Hindu Punjabi Khatri family. His father was a civil surgeon.
He studied the literature concerning the causes of Indian poverty and famines extensively, and felt that the key issues in seeking solutions to these problems lay in Swaraj (self-government) and Swadeshi.
Dhingra once led a student protest against the principal’s order to have the college blazer made of cloth imported from England. He was expelled from the college for this. His father told him to apologise to the college management. Dhingra refused, and chose not even to go home to discuss matters with his father, but to take a job and live as per his own wishes. He worked as a clerk for some time.
Dhingra arrived in London a year after the foundation of Shyamaji Krishnavarma’s India House in 1905. He came in contact with Savarkar and other activists there.
William Hutt Curzon Wyllie was the head of the Secret Police then and had been trying to obtain information about Savarkar and the revolutionaries. Dhingra decided to kill him.
On the evening of 1 July 1909 when wyllie was leaving the hall with his wife after attending the annual ‘At Home’ function hosted by the Indian National Association at the Imperial Institute, Dhingra fired five shots right at his face, four of which hit their target. Cawas Lalcaca,a Parsee doctor who tried to save Curzon, died of Dhingra’s sixth and seventh bullets,which he fired because Lalcaca had come between them.
After the assassination, he tried to kill himself but was unsuccessful and arrested.
In trial, Dhingra stated that he did not regret killing Curzon Wyllie, as he had played his part in order to set India free from the inhumane British rule, and as revenge for the inhumane killings of Indians by the British Government in India.
He was found guilty and sentenced to death and executed at Pentonville Prison on 17 August 1909.
While he was being removed from the court, he said to the Chief Justice- “Thank you, my Lord. I don’t care. I am proud to have the honour of laying down my life for the cause of my motherland.”
Winston Churchill, who is reported to have called Dhingra’s statement “the Finest ever made in the name of Patriotism”.
He was an inspiration at the time for leaders like Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad.