His father Lehna Singh, a favourite general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, had taken refuge at Kashi in 1844. Dyal Singh, orphaned at the age of six, was moved from Kashi to Majithia near Amritsar. He studied at the Christian Mission school in Amritsar and grew to be a man of great qualities of head and heart. When he took charge of the huge jagirs and estates of his distinguished father and grandfather, from the court of wards, he set out to carve a place for himself. He travelled to Great Britain and Europe and after his return in 1876, established himself as a great builder and a connoisseur of jewellery and precious stones. He earned a great fortune and used this money in charities and for movements for religious, economic, social and political advancement.
Birth of Tribune
He was the president of the Punjab branch of the Indian Association, which proved to be a precursor of the Indian National Congress. Most of Dyal Singh’s friends were Bengalee lawyers, teachers and administrators. With their help he had set up the weekly Tribune to mould the opinions of people of North India. As there was no hall in Lahore for public meetings, the courtyard of the Tribune office often served as a venue of public meetings addressed by such veterans as Madan Mohan Malaviya, Surendranath Banerjee, and Raja Rampal Singh .
The delegates to the Theosophical convention decided to form an all India organisation for which they decided to meet in Poona in December, 1885. With the outbreak of the plague epidemic in Poona, the venue was shifted to Bombay where the The Indian National Congress came into existence. Dyal Singh himself was not there but he had deputed the editor of his newspaper to attend this in -camera session. He sent Bipin Chandra Pal , sub-editor of the Tribune to attend the third session (1887) at Chennai. This session was a landmark. It asked for a repeal of the Arms Act and discussed ways of taking the movement to the masses. The British masters got frightened. The powerful diehard elements in the British bureaucracy now called the Congress a seditionist organisation. Their stand was supported by the Governor of UP. Dyal Singh who never hankered after titles or official favours, was advised by some of his friends not to attend the fourth session at Allahabad. He ignored it. In fact, he seconded the nomination of George Yule as the President of the Congress in that session .
Interestingly, in the defamation case filed against the Tribune and its proprietor Dyal Singh, by a police superintendent Warburton, one of the charges levelled against Dyal Singh was that he had allowed an avowed revolutionary, Allah Ram , to address a meeting in the courtyard of his ancestral Majithia house in Amritsar.
At the annual session at Allahabad, it was decided with Dyal Singh’s concurrence that Punjab’s invitation to hold the Congress session at Lahore be accepted, and thereafter the Congress met in 1893 in Lahore. Dyal Singh was elected Chairman of the Reception Committee. A shrewd businessman, he worked out the details of the session meticulously. Dyal Singh, who had built a number of houses for being rented out, placed them at the disposal of the delegates. All the important leaders, including Surendranath Banerjee visited the Tribune office to refer to old files for preparing their speeches.
Dyal Singh was sick, but he insisted on being present. He sat for some time on the podium, requesting for permission that his address be read out by someone else. The Congress had a saving of Rs.10,000 which became the nucleus of the fund to construct the Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore.
* The country celebrates the 150th Birth Anniversary of Dyal Singh Majithia this year. This is also the 100th Death Anniversary of Majithia, who died on September 9, 1898.