Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre
Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre still lingers in our minds.
On 13th April, 1919, the people of Amritsar were peacefully celebrating the Punjabi New Year –Baisakhi at Jallian Wala Bagh, a public garden in Amritsar, when they were mercilessly shot down on the orders of General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, of the colonial British force, and under the approval of Michael O Dwyer, the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.
One of the worst massacres in the history of humanity, the aftermath of which saw the whole country rising up.
Jallianwala Bagh tragedy
From this rage was born a freedom fighter who avenged this brutal slaughter.
Advent of Udham Singh
His name is Udham Singh!
If you haven’t heard his name, then we need to understand that there are many such forgotten heroes of this land, who sacrificed their present for our future.
Udham Singh is popularly known as Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh, meaning “The great martyr Udham Singh.”
He was born on 26th December, 1899, at Sunam in Punjab.
Ram Mohammed Singh Azad
Udham Singh was a person who believed in the harmony of all religions. He changed his name to Ram Mohammed Singh Azad.
Inspired by Bhagat Singh
The Jallian Wala Bagh tragedy of 1919 had a great impact on the young Udham Singh, when he was just 20 years. From then on, he began to take part in the Indian Freedom Struggle. He was very much inspired by the revolutionary activities of Bhagat Singh and his group, and followed in his footsteps.
Joining Ghadar Party
In 1924, he became involved with the Ghadar Party, a party founded by the Sikhs in US and Canada, with the aim of securing freedom for India, from the British. He lived in these countries for the next 3 years.
Ghadar Party Symbol
Return to India
In 1927, he returned to India, under the request of Bhagat Singh, with 25 associates as well as many arms and ammunitions.
Arrest and Release
He was soon prosecuted and sent to prison by the British, for 5 years, for carrying these weapons.
In 1931, he was released, but his actions were under constant surveillance.
Escape to Germany
Udham Singh, however didn’t give up. The constant thought in his mind was to avenge the Jallian Wala Bagh massacre.
He was able to evade the police and slip away to Kashmir. From here, he escaped to Germany.
In, 1934, he reached London, where he planned to assassinate Michael O Dwyer, who had approved the Jallian Wala Bagh massacre, as the Governor of Punjab.
He had to however wait for another 6 years to actually execute his plan.
Assassination of Michael O Dwyer
On 13th March, 1940, Michael O Dwyer was to speak at the joint meeting of the East India Association at 10 Caxton Hall, in London. Udham Singh found this an apt opportunity to aim at his target. He hid a revolver in his jacket, took a comfortable seat, and shot Dwyer twice, as he was moving towards the speakers’ stage. This was on the eve of Baisakhi.
Michael O Dyer was immediately killed, and Udham Singh was arrested at the site.
Udham Singh being taken away, after he shot Michael O Dwyer
Udham Singh’s reply at the Trial
On 1st April, 1940 charges were formally framed against him.
When asked about his motivation, during the trial, Udham Singh had replied,
“I don’t care. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?”
Udham Singh was convicted and sentenced to death, by the British Court.
On 21st July, 1940, he was martyred at the Penton Ville Prison.
This act of Udham Singh in 1940, was an important step towards India’s freedom in 1947.
A martyr whose name should be written in golden letters for his contribution towards Indian Independence.