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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

The Simon Commission Motivated India for Independence

The Massacre of Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar on April 13, 1919 and the Simon Commission in 1927 motivated Indians to struggle hard to get complete independence. In November 1927, the British Government appointed the Simon Commission two years ahead of schedule to report on India’s constitutional progress for introducing constitutional reforms, as promised. The Commission was strongly opposed by many Indians. It was opposed by Nehru, Gandhi, Jinah, the Muslim League, and Indian National Congress because it contained seven members of the British Parliament but no Indian. However it was supported by Ambedkar and Ramasamy.

The Simon Commission arrived in Bombay on February, 1928 and it’s members were confronted by many protesters, although there were also some supporters among the crowd who saw it as the next step on the road to self-governance. Strikes began and many people turned out to greet the Commission with black flags which said “Simon go back“. Ahmad Ajazi led the demonstrations against the Simon Commission in Patna. Similar protests occurred in every major Indian city where the seven British MPs visited. On October 30, 1928, the Commission arrived in Lahore where it was met by protesters waving black flags and the protest became very famous. The protest was lead by the Indian nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai, who had moved a resolution against the Commission in the Legislative Assembly of Punjab in February 1928. The protesters blocked the road in order to prevent the Commission members from leaving the railway station. In order to make way for the commission, the local police lead by Superintendent James Scott began beating protesters. Lal Lajpat Rai was critically injured and died on November 17, 1928 due to head injuries he had sustained.

Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev assassinated the British police officer JP Sanders on December 19, 1928. This incidence was a revenge for the murder of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was killed during the Lathi charge opposing Simon Commission. Bhagat Singh threw a bomb on the Central Assembly in Delhi on April 8, 1929. The main objective was to instill fear in the minds of the British officers. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were hanged on October 23, 1931. The last rites of the trio were performed at Hussaniwala on the bank of the Sutlej river in the Ferozpur district Punjab. In this way, these freedom fighters made sacrifices for the cause of freedom of India. Revolutionaries wanted freedom by force of arms, so their views never matched those of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian author, freedom fighter, and politician. He played an important role in the Indian independence movement. He was popularly know as the lion of Punjab. He was one of the the three members of the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate. He was associated with the activities of the Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages in 1894. He died a few weeks after sustaining severe injuries during a baton charge by police when he led a peaceful protest march against the British Simon Commission. He was born on January 28, 1865 in the Agarwal Jain family at the Dhudike village in the Ludhiana district. He passed matriculation in High School Jagraon and joined the Government College in Lahore in 1880 to study law. While studying at Lahore he was influenced by the Hindu Reformist Movement of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and he also became a member of the existing Arya Samaj Lahore (founded in 1877) and was the founder-editor of the Lahore-based Arya Gazette. In 1914, he quit law practice to join the Independence Movement and travelled to Britain and then to America in 1917. He founded the Indian Home Rule League in New York and came to India in 1920.

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