Much has not been written about the martyr Udham Singh of Punjab who was hanged to death on 31 July 1940 and later buried at Penton Ville prison in north London. Reason: He shot dead the retired Governor of Punjab Michel O' Dwyer in Britain for his prime role in the the mass killing in 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar of Punjab state, India . Udham could not brook the plight of native Indians and their sufferings under the oppressive British rule. Being a freedom fighter, he wanted the Indian subcontinent freed from the foreign rule soon and to achieve this he was willing to sacrifice his life at a very young age.
|Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab. patriot Udham Singh, assassin of gov. O'Dwyer. .indiatimes.com/india|
|Assassination of O' Dwyer in London twitter.com|
With so much premeditation and proper planning, but with an express intent to harm as many people as possible, the obnoxious military officer blocked all the exits except one in the bagh - garden. He had his soldiers fired on the peaceful crowd without any prior warning. The purpose of Lt. Gov. O' Dwyer and Gen. Dyer was to ''punish the Indians for disobedience.” Quite obnoxious was the fact that Dyer asked his soldiers ''to knell and shoot at the spots where the fleeing crowd was dense to produce better results''. Unaware of the 144 curfew in force, countless innocent people gathered there to celebrate the festival Baishaki. When shooting started suddenly, the crowd panicked and the stampede caused the death of innumerable people. When addressing the media, the administrator O’Dwyer, who is well known for his gritty stand against the national militancy in the subcontinent, defended Gen. Dyer's action by saying his action ''was correct. Many of the British MPs from the Labor party and some British journalists were highly critical of the governor and the military commander. Many Britons were outraged and both Dyer and O’ Dwyer ended up losing their jobs. However, the Indian leaders were quite angry that neither of them received any punishment whatsoever before the court for the horror committed by them under the British flag.
|Postal stamp. Udham Singh, Indian patriot. mintageworld.com|
A Sikh by birth, born as Sher Singh in Sangrur, Punjab, and brought up in an orphanage, he grew up as a freedom fighter. He took keen interest in revolutionary activities against the British misrule. No doubt, being patriotic and highly spirited and motivated, he did not like the natives being insulted and intimidated by the foreign rulers who were more bent on exploiting the Indian resources to improve their economy back home, pushing the natives to abject poverty, subjugation. and enslavement than overall improvement of the welfare of the natives. So, he joined the Ghadar party in 1924 (with revolutionary ideology) that fought against the Raj secretly and in 1927, he was imprisoned for smuggling weapons for his revolutionary activities. According to the Indian Political Intelligence, “ his obsession was such that ''he had intended to murder Europeans who were ruling over India'' in order to instill fear among the British officers. He landed in England after his release from the jail in Multan (now in Pakistan).
|Caxton Hall,London, Udham assassinated Gov. O'Dwyer shrimataji.org|
|On that day the retired colonial was scheduled to attend a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hall. As proceedings had just come to an end, Udham Singh who already got into the hall with a concealed pistol, went close to O 'Dwyer and whipped out the weapon. In a jiff, shots rang out on the O' Dwyer who fell dead on the floor. The trial took place in England and Udham Singh was sentenced to death by hanging. Like many martyrs, he glorified his killing of O' Dwyer and 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 have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to seek 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 greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?''|
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, freedom fighter and first PM of Independent India publicly praised Shaheed Udham Singh and his supreme sacrifice during the freedom movement. Never afraid, Singh kissed the noose on the gallows before execution so that in the later years we could breathe fresh air of freedom and be free for ever..” Udham Singh went on a 42-day hunger strike and, at last, in July same year at Penton Ville Prison he was put to death. The British did not allow proper cremation and he was buried on the prison premises. In 1974, Udham Singh’s remains were exhumed and repatriated to India. His cremation took place at his birthplace of Sunam in Punjab and his ashes were scattered in Sutlej river. At the Jallianwla Bagh, Amritsar part of his ashes was kept in a sealed urn. At this prison in north London, yet another Indian patriot and revolutionary was executed in 1909 for his role in the freedom movement in India. He was Madanlal Dhingra,http://milind-sathe.com/Photography/Remembering-Shaheed-Udham-Singh-on-31-July-2017-77-years-after-his-being-hanged-by-the-British.html