I have never changed houses. For almost 25 years, I have lived in Gujranwala Town, Delhi. Until recently, I did not know the name of the road on which my house was situated. I never needed it for postal purposes and hence the ignorance. It was only when Uber and Ola came in to the picture and my house pin read "Lala Achintaram Marg" that I discovered.
But that made no difference to me. I continued to book my cabs for "Lala Achintaram Marg" without any clue who Lalaji is/was. Then suddenly one day, curiosity descended and I googled Lala Achintaram. Following is a summary of the various things that I found out about him.
Lala Achintaram was a freedom fighter and was a close associate of Lala Lajpat Rai. He was one of the first three members of the Servants of the People Society (founded by Lala Lajpat Rai). He participated in the Quit India Movement and was imprisoned several times (in 1930, 1939, 1940 and 1942). Post independence, he was a member of the Lok Sabha as also the Constituent Assembly. A true Gandhian, he also took part in the Bhoodan Movement. He went on a padyatra (along with Satya Balaji) in the Sirsa Tehsil and encouraged people to donate their lands to landless farmers. Lalaji was also involved in several activities that focussed on ending forced labour (begar) and improving the quality of life of peasants.
Here is a picture of Lalaji with Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (source):
Lalaji's wife (Satyavati) was also a freedom fighter and like her husband had been imprisoned several times. When India (and Pakistan) awoke to freedom at the stroke of midnight, Lalaji's wife was in Lahore cooking meals for the many refugees of Partition. The family moved to India in 1948.
No one is born as a freedom fighter. Lalaji came from an affluent family and had studied medicine. He gave up his flourishing practice and took the plunge into the freedom struggle. Satyavatiji reminisces that when Gandhiji asked Lalaji to join the freedom struggle, Lalaji burnt over 30 suits and shoes as a mark of solidarity.
According to this blog, the iconic picture of Gandhiji stepping out of a Railway coach features Lalaji in the same frame. Here he is standing to the right of Gandhiji:
Lalaji left for his heavenly abode in 1961. Lalaji's son Shri Krishan Kant went on to become the Vice President of India. Lalaji and Satyavatiji's simple and inspiring life had a deep impact on Shri Krishan Kant.
That's all the internet told me. Perhaps, there is a lot more in History books and records, and maybe when I get the time I will dig through them.
Right now, I feel damn proud of living on Lala Achintaram Marg. What a great man he was!
Happy Independence Day!