On the 1st of July 1909, five shots rang out at the Imperial Institute in South Kensington and two men lay dead. Above is an artist’s view of the event from the Illustrated London News.
‘It was ascertained that the assailant is Madha Lao Dhingra, a Hindu from the Punjab who has been studying engineering at University College. He remained quite cool and collected after his arrest. He was taken to Walton Street Police Station and is said to have slept well during the night”. The Times, London, 3 July.
The name is mis-spelt. It is Madan Lal Dhingra and he was my great Uncle. After a trial of half an hour, he was executed at Pentonville on 17th August. In 1976 at the request of Government of India, his remains were exhumed and returned to a hero’s welcome.
That was then. But today: 1st of July 2021, it is very present in my mind as my book EXHUMATION: The life and death of Madan Lal Dhingra will be published by HopeRoad on August 17th, the anniversary of of his execution.
Woven through the historical story, is a memoir of my search for his story and untangling the impact of Partition on my life. A multi layered exhumation. Taking the lid off things creates space for healing.
You can pre-order EXHUMATION: The life and death of Madan Lal Dhingra from HopeRoad Publishing.