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Remembering Udham Singh, the revolutionary who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre3 min read

April 13, 2021 3 min read


Remembering Udham Singh, the revolutionary who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

April 13th, 1919 is a black day in the history of India.

On this day, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer open fired on a gathering of unarmed civilians who had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate Baisakhi. This massacre, where thousands of people lost their lives, sparked the fire of revolution in many Indians of the time. Shaheed Udham Singh was one such revolutionary, who later went on to avenge the massacre.

Sourced from Wikipedia

Legend has it that Udham Singh was present at the Bagh that day.

At that time, Punjab was at the behest of Lieutenant General, Michael O’ Dwyer, who was reportedly insecure withe religious solidarity in the state. It is believed by many that Dyer’s actions had received a nod from Dwyer.

Udham Singh was born in Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur district in 1899. He went on to become a political activist, the traces of which can be seen in his association with the Gadar Party in the USA. The Gadar Party was an anti-colonial organisation committed to ousting the British from India.

Udham Singh also acted in two Hollywood movies, Elephant Boy and The Four Feathers, to earn extra money to support the Gadar party. Elephant Boy was based on the story of Toomai of the Elephants from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The Four Feathers was about a British officer disguised as an Arab to protect his troops.

Udham Singh in Elephant Boy. Sourced from Scroll

Udham Singh (second from the left) being taken from 10 Caxton Hall after the assassination of Michael O’Dwyer. Wikimedia Commons

On March 13, 1940, Udham Singh shot O’Dwyer at a meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hill, London.
He had hidden the revolver in a book by carving out its pages in the shape of the weapon. He did not bolt after firing but waited to be arrested. He was immediately arrested, and held at Brixton prison. There he called himself Mohammed Singh Azad to show religious unity. He staged a 42 day hunger strike and fearlessly shared scathing speeches about the British empire in court. He was sentenced to death, and hanged at the Pentonville Prison on July 31, 1940.

India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, called Udham Singh, Shaheed-i-Azam for going to the land of the oppressor to take revenge for the massacre of 1919.

On Baisakhi of 2018, a statue was erected in his honour at the Jallianwala Bagh.

On Udham Singh’s 75th death anniversary, the Indian band Ska Vengers released a music video, Frank Brazil, relaying the details of Udham Singh’s life. Here’s the retrospective:

Sourced from India Today, The Indian Express, and Scroll.