MOMENTS FROM HISTORY
The activities of Swaraj Party had induced the British Government to review the working of the Dyarchy system introduced by the Montague-Chelmsford reforms and to report as to what extent a Representative Government could be introduced in India. The British Government appointed the ‘Simon Commission’ in November 1927 for the task. All members of this commission were Europeans. Indian political leaders felt insulted and decided to boycott the Commission. The call for the boycott of the Commission was endorsed by the Liberal Federation led by Tej Bahadur Sapru, by the Indian Industrial and Commercial Congress and by the Hindu Mahasabha; even the Muslim League split on the issue, Mohammad Ali Jinnah carrying the majority with him in favor of boycott.
It was the Indian National Congress that turned the boycott into a movement. The action began as soon as Simon and his colleagues landed in Bombay on Feburary 3, 1928. All the major cities and towns observed a complete ‘hartal’ and people were out on the streets participating in the mass rallies, processions and black flags demonstrations. Wherever the Commission went there were slogans, ‘Simon go back’. While leading the demonstration at Lahore, Lala Lajpat Rai was severely beaten in a police lathicharge and succumbed to his injuries. It was his death that Bhagat Singh and his comrades were seeking to avenge when they killed a white police official, Saunders in December 1928.