Udham Singh: India’s forgotten freedom fighter – NewsGram

Udham Singh was born on December 26, 1899 in Sunam, Sangrur district in Punjab, India. He belonged to the Kamboj family of Jammu. Singh’s mother died as an infant and his father, who was a farmer and also worked as a crossing guard in Upalli village, passed away after a few years. After the death of his parents, Udham Singh and his brother, Mukta Singh, were taken into the care of the Central Khalsa Putlighar Orphanage in Amritsar.

On April 13, 1919, over twenty thousand unarmed people gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, to celebrate the important Hindu and Sikh festival of Baisakhi. At the same time, they peacefully protested the British arrest of local leaders of the Indian National Congress, including Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. It was only then that troops under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire on the crowd, killing thousands of innocent people. Singh and his friends were in attendance as they served water on the program.


This episode led Singh to get involved in revolutionary politics. Therefore, in 1924, Singh joined the Ghadar party and began to organize campaigns abroad whose main message was to overthrow British rule in India. But, in 1927, Singh returned to India on the orders of Bhagat Singh. Singh brought with him 25 associates as well as guns and ammunition. Because of this, he was arrested for “possession of unlicensed weapons”, and was sent to prison for five years.

When Udham Singh was released in 1931, he traveled to Kashmir where he was able to escape the Punjab police and then went to Germany. In 1934 Singh reached London, where he found a job as an engineer, and simultaneously continued to plan the assassination of Michael O’Dwyer.

Michael O’Dwyer, the lieutenant governor of the Punjab under which the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place, was assassinated by Udham Singh. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

On March 13, 1940, Singh hid a gun in a book in Caxton Hall, where Michael O’Dwyer was to speak at a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society. Right at the end of the meeting, Singh shot O’Dwyer twice, and one of those bullets went through O’Dwyer’s right heart and lung, killing him almost instantly. As a result of this act, Singh was arrested.

On April 1, 1940, Singh was charged with the murder of Michael O’Dwyer. When asked why he did what he did, Singh replied, “I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. I don’t belong to society or anything else. I do not care. I don’t mind dying. What is the use of waiting to grow old? Is Zetland dead? It should be. Did I put two? I bought the gun from a soldier in a pub. My parents died when I was three or four years old. Only one death? I thought I could have more. ”

In fact, when Singh was in detention, his name was “Ram Mohammad Singh Azad”, and this represented the three main religious communities in Punjab, as well as “Azad” which means free.

On June 4, 1940, Singh’s trial began in the Central Criminal Court before Judge Atkinson. He was represented by VK Krishna Menon and St. John Hutchinson, while GB McClure was the General Counsel. Again, when asked about his motivation, Singh said, “I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I crushed him. For 21 years, I tried to get revenge. I am glad I did the job. I am not afraid of death. I am dying for my country. I saw my people starve to death in India under British rule. I protested against it, it was my duty. “

As a result, Singh was sentenced to death on July 31, 1940. He was hanged in Pentonville prison by Albert Pierrepoint.

Udham Singh’s remains are kept at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab. Every July 31, the Indian people pay homage to this freedom fighter who, without thinking of himself, took revenge on the blood of his innocent fellow citizens.

Keywords: Udham Singh, freedom fighter, India, independence, British rule.


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Thelma J. Longworth

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