This Day in History (8-Jan-1025) – Mehmud of Ghazni completely destroyed the Temple of Somnath

Until the rise of the west, India was possibly the richest country in the world. Such a country presented an irresistible target for the ravening Mongols and their descendants who settled in present day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, all within comparatively easy reach of north-western India. The northwest was, at this time, a mish-mash of warring kingdoms, more interested in sending scores with their neighbours than in unifying against the Mongols. It is then unsurprising that Mahmud Ghazni’s armies so handily defeated those of the Indian kings. Mahmud began a series of seventeen raids into northwestern India at the end of the 10th century. Nonetheless, he did not attempt to rule Indian Territory except for Punjab, which was his gateway to India.

Somnath Temple located in the Kathiarwar region of Gujarat, is one of the twelve Jyotiriings symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath mean “The Protector of Moon God’. It is known as “the Shrine Eternal’ as although the temple has been destroyed six times it has been rebuilt every single time. The first temple of Somnath is said to have existed before the beginning of the Christian era. The second temple, built by the Maitraka kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat, replaced the first one on the same site around 649 AD. In 725 Junayad, the Arab governor of Sind sent his armies to destroy the second temple. The Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple in 815 AD, a large structure of red sandstone.

Mahmud of Ghazni attacked this temple in 1025 AD, and looted it of gems and precious stones. He then massacred the worshippers and had the temple burnt. It was then that the famous Shiva lingam of the temple was entirely destroyed. The temple and citadel were sacked, and most of its defenders massacred; Mahmud personally hammered the temple’s gilded lingam to pieces and the stone fragments were carted back to Ghazni, where they were incorporated into the steps of the city’s new Jamiah Masjid.

However as very little evidences or descriptions of said era are available, there are multiple versions of this raid and what was probably looted during the raid.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.winentrance.com/general_knowledge/history/mahumud-ghazni.html

This Day in History (17-Nov-1928) – Lala Lajpat Rai died after suffering grievous injuries during a lathi-charge carried out by the police

While in college Lala Lajpat Rai joined the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. Soon he became one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. They formed the extremist faction of the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate one led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and then Gandhiji. Lalaji actively participated in the struggle against partition of Bengal. Along with Surendra Nath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurorbindo Ghosh, he galvanized Bengal and the nation in a vigorous campaign of Swadeshi. Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating “turmoil” in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months.

He left for Britain in April 1914 to organize propaganda in foreign countries about freedom struggle. At this time First World War broke out and he was unable to return to India. He went to USA to galvanize support for India. He founded the Indian Home League Society of America and wrote a book called “Young India”. He was able to return to India in 1920 after the end of World War. After his return, Lala Lajpat Rai, led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre and the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested several times. He disagreed with Gandhiji’s suspension of Non-Cooperation movement due to the Chauri-Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party, which had a pro-Hindu slant.

In 1928, British Government decided to send Simon Commission to India to discuss constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member. This greatly angered Indians. In 1929, when the Commisssion came to India there were protests all over India. Lala Lajpat Rai himself led one such procession against Simon Commission on October 30, 1928 in Lahore. While the procession was peaceful, James Scott, superintendent of Police brutally lathicharged the procession. Lala Lajpat Rai received severe head injuries and died on November17, 1928. Subsequently to avenge Lalaji’s death, Bhagat Singh and others planned to kill James Scott, however ended up killing John P. Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police, in case of a mistaken identity.
Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/17th-november-1928-lala-lajpat-rai-indian-nationalist-passed-away

http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-heroes/lala-lajpat-rai.html

This Day in History (17-Aug-1947) – The Radcliffe Line, the border between the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan is revealed

When the India-Pakistan partition was evident, in June 1947, Britain commissioned Sir Cyril Radcliffe to head the two Boundary Commissions (one for Punjab and the other for Bengal), to equitably divide 4,50,000 km sq of territory with 88 million people. Each Boundary Commission had four representatives, two from the Congress and two from the Muslim League and given the tension between the both, the decision regarding the boundary ultimately lay with Radcliffe. Radcliffe was a brilliant legal mind, but he had no border-making experience, nor had he ever been to India. He arrived in India on 8th July 1947 and was given five weeks to work on the border. While defining the boundary, Radcliffe also took into consideration “natural boundaries, communications, watercourses and irrigation systems”, while paying heed to socio-political affairs. Radcliffe completed the boundary line a few days before Independence.

Understandably, Radcliffe’s final proposals met with howls of disapproval from both sides. Even before he had completed his work, mutual suspicion and rumors about the eventual course of the border led to deadly violence on the ground. To create perceptual distance between the independence of India and Pakistan and the accompanying riots — and especially to deflect blame for the latter from Britain — Mountbatten postponed publication of the Radcliffe Border Commissions’ findings to two days after Aug. 15. For those two days, India and Pakistan were like conjoined twins. With long stretches of the border undefined on Independence Day, some towns raised both the Indian and Pakistani flags. Following the release of the border scheme, called the Radcliffe Award, violence escalated to horrendous levels. When all was over, pogroms and ethnic cleansing had left up to 1 million dead and forced 12 million to move one way or the other across the new border. Disgusted and horrified, Radcliffe burned all his papers and refused the fee of 40,000 rupees for his work. He left on Independence Day and never returned.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/17th-august-1947-the-radcliffe-line-the-border-between-the-union-of-india-and-the-dominion-of-pakistan-is-revealed

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/peacocks-at-sunset/?_r=0

This Day in History (13-Apr-1919) – Amritsar Massacre, Jallian Wala Bagh

It started a few months after the end of the first world war when an Englishwoman, a missionary, reported that she had been molested on a street in the Punjab city of Amritsar. The Raj’s local commander, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, issued an order requiring all Indians using that street to crawl its length on their hands and knees. He also authorized the indiscriminate, public whipping of natives who came within lathi length of British policemen.

On April 13, 1919, a multitude of Punjabis  gathered in Amritsar’s Jallian wala Bagh as part of the Sikh Festival “Baisakhi fair” and to protest at these extraordinary measures. The throng, penned in a narrow space had been peacefully listening to the testimony of victims when General R.E.H. Dyer appeared at the head of a contingent of British troops. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd. Apart from the many deaths directly from the shooting, a number of people died in stampedes at the narrow gates or by jumping into the solitary well on the compound to escape the shooting. . Official British Raj sources estimated the fatalities at 379, and with 1,100 wounded. However, the casualty number quoted by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with roughly 1,000 killed.

Dyer’s response to the Hunter Commission Enquiry said he did not stop the shooting when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep shooting until the crowd dispersed, and that a little shooting would not do any good. In fact he continued the shooting till the ammunition was almost exhausted. In a telegram sent to Dyer, British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer wrote: “Your action is correct. Lieutenant Governor approves.”  A Sikh teenager Udham Singh saw the happening with his own eyes and avenged the killings of his countrymen by killing Michael O’Dwyer in Caxton Hall of London on 13th March 1940. On the 31st July, 1940, Udham Singh was hanged.

 

Reference:

http://www.amritsar.com/Jallian%20Wala%20Bagh.shtml

http://www.jallianwalabagh.ca/pages.php?id=4