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Udham Singh: The Untold Story Of Man Who Avenged A Massacre

Shaheed Udham Singh was 20 years old at the time of the massacre

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Shaheed Udham Singh was the braveheart who avenged the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.
Shaheed Udham Singh was the braveheart who avenged the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.
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By Ruchika Verma

  • Udham Singh was the freedom fighter who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre
  • He travelled to many countries to gain support for the independence of India
  • Udham Singh dies in 194o after shooting Michael O’Dwyer

If you know about the violent and brutal Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, there are high chances you know about Udham Singh too. Udham Singh was the man who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre by shooting down Michael O’Dwyer, the man who supported the firing at the Jallianwala Bagh on 13th April 1919.

Udham Singh was the man who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Wikipedia.org
Udham Singh was able to escape the Jallianwala Bagh massacre alive. Wikipedia.org

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre – The most brutal killing of innocent people

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was the result of brutal firing on innocent people, who had assembled in the Jallianwala Bagh for a peaceful protest against the arrest of various Freedom Fighters under the Rowlatt Act.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was the result of the arrest of freedom fighters, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew under the Rowlatt Act which was already facing a widespread protest from around India. This arrest added fuel to the fire, making people angrier.

Also Read: Shaheed Udham Singh: A Patriot Who Avenged Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The widespread anger of people scared the British government and the General Reginald Dyer, who was the head of British administration at that time, imposed a ban in public gatherings.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre is still considered one of the brutal killing of people.
Jallianwala Bagh massacre is still considered one of the brutal killing of people. The statue here is built in remembrance of all those who died during the massacre.

This is, however, one side of the story. The day of 13th April is the day of Baisakhi. Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh was famous for its Baisakhi Fair which many people from far off villages come to attend. Many outsiders who came to attend the much-celebrated fair, were unaware of the ban.

When General Dyer got to know about this, he closed all the exits to the Jallianwala Bagh and opened fire on all the people present in the park, without any warning.

Panic-stricken public caused a stampede, trying to run and save their lives by climbing the walls or jumping into the well. The British army kept on firing till they ran out of ammunition. The whole of the Jallianwala Bagh bathes in the blood of innocent people that way. Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured during this incident.

Jallianwala bagh incident happened in Amritsar, Punjab on 13th April 1919. Wikimedia Commons
Jallianwala Bagh incident happened in Amritsar, Punjab on 13th April 1919. Wikimedia Commons

One of the man present during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was Udham Singh, who got deeply scarred by what happened.

Udham Singh – How he became a freedom fighter 

Shaheed Udham Singh was 20 years old at the time of the massacre. After the Jallianwala Bagh incident, he got involved in the arms resistance movement that was unfolding all around the globe. In the early 1920s, he travelled to East Africa, where, after working as a labourer for a brief while, he made his way to the USA.

There, in San Francisco, he came into the contact of the Ghadar Party. It was a revolutionary movement started by the immigrant Punjabi-Sikhs to gain India’s independence from the British.

Udham Singh spent next few years of his life, travelling across America and securing support for their movement. He collaborated with many aliases such as Ude Singh, Sher Singh and Frank Brazil.

Udham Singh was 20 years old when Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened. Wikimedia Commons
Udham Singh was 20 years old when Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened. Wikimedia Commons

In 1927, he came back to Punjab. There he was arrested for the possession of illegal arms and for running the publication, Ghadr di Gunj. He was jailed for four years till 1931. During the four years he spent in jail, Brigadier-General Dyer died after suffering from a series of strokes.

When Udham Singh was released in 1931, he was under close surveillance because of his close contact with Bhagat Singh’s Republicans, who by that time was hanged due to the Lahore conspiracy. He somehow managed to escape to Germany, after forming alliances with Kashmir.

Udham Singh and his Revenge 

Udham Singh reached England in 1933. His aim was to assassinate Michael O’Dwyer, who he held responsible for the brutal Jallianwala massacre. O’Dwyer had justified the massacre, calling it a “correct action”. In London, he made allies with socialist groups while working as a carpenter, mechanic and painter.

Udham Singh appeared in movies as well. Udham Singh movies include Alexander Korda’s ‘Elephant Boy’ and ‘The Four Feathers’ in which he worked as an extra.

Shaheed Udham Singh during his trial.
Shaheed Udham Singh during his trial.

However, the freedom fighter, Shaheed Udham Singh didn’t forget his purpose. When he learnt that Michael O’Dwyer will speak at a meeting in London’s Caxton Hall on March 13, 1940. He sneaked into the hall that day with a revolver sneaked in his jacket. He shot O’Dwyer twice as after the meeting concluded and he was ascending down the platform.

Also Read: 15 unknown facts about Shaheed Bhagat Singh 

He was immediately taken into custody and did not try to flee or resist the arrest.

During his trial, Udham Singh gave his name as Mohammad Singh Azad, which was also tattooed on his arm. It was a symbol, meaning that all religions in India were united in their efforts against the British rule.

Shaheed Udham Singh died on 31st July 1940 after being prosecuted for the murder of Michael O'Dwyer. Twitter
Shaheed Udham Singh died on 31st July 1940 after being prosecuted for the murder of Michael O’Dwyer. Twitter

He was sentenced to death and was hanged on July 31, 1940 at London’s Pentonville Prison. Udham Singh was buried there in the prison grounds.

In 1974, Shaheed Udham Singh’s remains were exhumed and returned to India before being cremated at his birthplace, Sunam village in Punjab.

Today, there is a place known as Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand which is named after the braveheart who sacrificed his life to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

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15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh is considered to be a legend. Many of his actions are well-known. Even after his death, his inspiring actions continued to stir the desire for freedom.

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Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907
  • At a very early age, he got inclined towards socialism and socialist revolutions
  • Bhagat Singh was a very versatile theatre artist

Bhagat Singh stands out to be one of India’s greatest revolutionary freedom fighter who was given the death penalty by the British colonizers. Although he died at a very young age of 23 but his actions inspired the youth of the nation to fight for the nation’s freedom.

Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. He was born on 28 September 1907 in the village of Banga, Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan). Bhagat Singh is considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. He inculcated the spirit of martyrdom since his childhood.

Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. Wikimedia Commons
Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. Wikimedia Commons

At a very early age, he got inclined towards socialism and socialist revolutions led by Lenin and soon he started to follow and read about them. The leaflet that he threw in the Central Assembly on 9 April 1929, he stated, “It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled while the ideas survived.”

Also Read: 8 must-read works of Rabindranath Tagore

Take a look at the life of one of the most celebrated Indian freedom fighters.

  1. Bhagat Singh was a great actor in college and a theatre artist. He took part in several plays. The most notable plays he was part of were ‘Rana Pratap’, ‘Samrat Chandragupta’ and ‘Bharata-durdasha’.
  2. When the Jalianwala Bagh incident occurred, Bhagat Singh was in school. He immediately left the school and went straight to the place of the tragedy. He collected the mud of that place which was mixed with the blood of Indians and worshipped the bottle every day. At that time, he was just 12 years old.
  3. In his childhood, Bhagat Singh often talked and wanted to grow guns in the fields, so that he could fight the British and push them back.
  4. Being a kid, he never talked about toys or games. He used to speak about driving out Britishers from India.
  5. The bomb that Bhagat Singh and his associates threw in the Central Assembly, were made of low-grade explosives. They were thrown away from people in the corridors of the building and were only meant to startle and not harm anyone. The British investigation report and forensics details also confirmed this.
  6. Bhagat Singh coined the word “political prisoner” during his stay in prison in 1930. He demanded basic amenities for his comrades in the prison which were even given to British looters and goons in the jail.
  7. ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. It fueled the independence vision of the people and later on became the slogan of India’s armed freedom struggle.
  8. Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. He was then secretly cremated on the banks of the river Sutlej by jail authorities. However, on hearing the news of his execution, thousands of people gathered at the spot of his cremation and took out a procession with his ashes.
  9. When Bhagat Singh was imprisoned in Lahore Jail, he kept a diary with him in which he penned down his fervent thoughts about freedom and revolution.
  10. At the very young age of 14 years, Bhagat Singh took part in a protest against the killing of a large number of unarmed people at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib.
  11. Bhagat Singh debunked Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence. After the 1922 Chauri Chaura incident, he joined the Young Revolutionary Movement and began to advocate for the violent methods to overthrow the British Government in India.
  12. To avoid a forced marriage by his family, Bhagat Singh ran away to Kanpur and left a letter, which read, “My life has been dedicated to the noblest cause, that of the freedom of the country. Therefore, there is no rest or worldly desire that can lure me now.”
  13. When the British police became aware of Singh’s influence on youth, they immediately arrested him on the false pretext of having been involved in a bombing.
  14. After witnessing the Hindu-Muslim riots that broke out after Gandhi disbanded the Non-Cooperation Movement, he began to question religious ideologies of the society. After that point, Singh dropped his religious beliefs. He believed that the religion hinders the revolutionaries’ struggle for independence, and started studying the works of Bakunin, Lenin, Trotsky – all atheist revolutionaries. Later on, Bhagat Singh also wrote an essay titled ‘Why I am an Atheist’ in 1930 in Lahore Central Jail.
  15. Bhagat Singh wrote for Urdu and Punjabi newspapers which used to get published from Amritsar. He also contributed to the publishing of pamphlets by the Naujawan Bharat Sabha that excoriated the British. In his college time, Singh won an essay competition set by the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. Bhagat Singh also published a series of articles on anarchism in Kirti and used many pseudonyms such as Balwant, Ranjit and Vidhrohi for publishing his writings.
    ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
    ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons

     

    Also Read: 10 Facts You Need To Know About Homi Bhabha

    Bhagat Singh is considered to be a legend. Many of his actions are well-known. His execution ignited the feeling of unity in many people to take up the revolutionary path, playing an important role in India’s freedom struggle. On the other hand, many didn’t agree with his radical approach to attain freedom. Even after his death, his inspiring actions continued to stir the desire for freedom.

    Once Bhagat Singh said, “They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.