Alex Tickell


On a warm evening early in July 1909, a young Indian man dressed informally in a plain suit and a carefully wound light blue turban left his lodgings in Ledbury Road, Bayswater, for the last time. Madan Lai Dhingra, a student at London's University College, had already been out earlier in the evening at a shooting range on the Tottenham Court Road, where he had practised firing his Colt revolver at a paper target, and had asked for the gun to be cleaned before he left. As he walked quickly towards South Kensington, Dhingra carried the Colt, another automatic revolver, and a dagger hidden in his coat. His destination was the Imperial Institute, where the National Indian Association had organised a concert and reception; one of their 'At Homes' held for the purpose of giving Indian students and visitors to London a chance to meet people sympathetic to Britain's colonial subjects. The invitation had asked guests to wear evening dress or 'native costume' and as Dhingra arrived at the meeting he must have realised that his inconspicuous clothes actually made him stand out in the midst of the black tail-coats and brilliant Indian fabrics which made a crowded patchwork in the brightly lit reception room.



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