India became the land of free in 1947 after years of struggle for freedom and sacrifices of human lives. One of the heroes who laid his life in India’s Independence was Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh. Born as Sher Singh, the brave Indian revolutionary is remembered for assassinating Sir Michael O’Dwyer, in order to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. He was sentenced to death and hanged for the murder on July 31, 1940. The entire nation is remembering and paying tributes to the lion-hearted freedom fighter on Shaheed Udham Singh’s 77th Death Anniversary.
Shaheed Udham Singh born on December 26, 1899, is one of the country’s freedom fighters whose daredevilry makes every Indian feel proud. The heinous act of killing around 1000 non-violent protesters and pilgrims and injuring another 1000 who had assembled in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab for Baisakhi celebrations on the command of Reginald Edward Harry Dyer. This coward, spineless and profoundly inhumane act by the British enraged the entire nation, and Udham Singh was not the one to keep quiet about it. He targeted Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab from 1912 to 1919, who supported General Dyer and called the massacre a “correct” action.
The Indian freedom fighter shot Michael O’Dwyer twice at the Caxton Hall, London, where the LG was scheduled to speak at the joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society. The man with steely nerves and grit did not run away from the site after avenging Jallianwala Bagh massacre but stood boldly to be arrested. He was charged with the murder of O’Dwyer and sentenced to death on July 31, 1940. Many historians point Jallianwala Bagh massacre to be the turning point leading to the downfall of British Raj in India.
On 1 April 1940, Singh was formally charged with the murder of Michael O’Dwyer. While awaiting trial in Brixton Prison, Singh went on a 42-day hunger strike and had to be forcibly fed. On 4 June 1940, his trial commenced at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, before Justice Atkinson, with V.K. Krishna Menon and St. John Hutchison representing him. When asked about his motivation, Singh explained:
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 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?
The country remembers the courageous act of Shaheed Udham Singh on his death anniversary.