Madan Lal Dhingra was the sixth of seven children of a civil surgeon. All six sons studied abroad. In June 1906, Dhingra left Amritsar for Britain. He enrolled in University College, London, to study engineering.
Dhingra arrived in London a year after the foundation of Shyamaji Krishnavarma's India House. This organization in Highgate was a meeting place for Indian radicals. They had weekly meetings, which Dhingra would often attend. V. D. Savarkar became manager of India House and inspired Dhingra's admiration in the cult of assassination. However, Dhingra became aloof from India House and was known to undertake shooting practice at a range on Tottenham Court Road. On 1 July 1909, he attended an 'At Home' hosted by the National Indian Association at the Imperial Institute. At the end of the event, as the guests were leaving, Dhingra shot Sir Curzon-Wyllie, an India Office official, at close range. His bullets also hit Dr Lalcaca, a Parsee doctor, who was killed.
Dhingra was immediately arrested. At his trial, Dhingra represented himself, although he did not recognize the legitimacy of the court. He claimed that he had murdered Curzon-Wyllie as a patriotic act and in revenge for the inhumane killings of Indians by the British Government in India. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed at Pentonville Prison on 17 August 1909.
Curzon-Wyllie, David Garnett (met briefly at India House and arranged publication of Dhingra's statement in Daily News), Shyamaji Krishnavarma, V. D. Savarkar.
Assassination of Sir William Hutt Curzon-Wyllie at Imperial Institute, South Kensington, 1 July 1909.
Daily News, 18 August 1909
Datta, V. N., Madan Lal Dhingra and the Revolutionary Movement (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1978)
Dhingra, Leena, ‘Dhingra, Madan Lal (1883–1909)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/71628]
Garnet, David, The Golden Echo (London: Chatto & Windus, 1953)
Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)
The end of the statement written by Dhingra that was published after his execution.
The only lesson required in India today is to learn how to die and the only way to teach it is by dying ourselves, and so, I die and glory in my Martyrdom. Bande Mataram.
Criminal Files, National Archives, Kew
L/P&J/6/986, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras
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