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  • Writer's pictureShamsher singh

Shaheed Sardar Udham Singh 1899 - 1940


[Gandhi is considered the guiding spirit of India, can say anything about my poor.... Udham Singh, an orphan of poor mother/father, has anything other than this body...? To offer at the feet of the Guru】

Shaheed Udham Singh was born in the house of Sardar Tehal Singh of Surnam village in 1899 AD. After the death of his father at a young age in 1907, he was taken to the Central Khalsa Orphanage in Amritsar for his studies. On the Baisakhi of 13th April 1919, Udham Singh along with his companions from the orphanage was doing Chhabil Seva at Jallianwala Bagh, when he witnessed the historic massacre of the innocent protestors by the British soldiers.

After twenty-one years of anguish and struggle, Sardar Udham Singh guarding the Sikh traditions, traveled all the way to Britain and publicly shot and killed the Governor General of Punjab, the "Butcher" Michael O'Dwyer, at Caxton Hall, London.

In the name of religion, those white men who were preaching peace, themselves shot at those unarmed and innocent people on the Baisakhi of 1919 till no ammunition was left in their rifles.

In the name of peace, O'Dwyer was honored for his apparent brave deeds of the Jallianwala massacre in the land of Punjab. Sardar Udham Singh had courageously shown the other side of the picture to the British.

In Caxton Hall when the anxious British were trying to run away from the scene, Sardar Udham Singh laug ਦਾhed it off and asked the people not to fear. His purpose in London was fulfilled and saying these words, he voluntarily surrendered himself to be arrested by the police.

Sardar Udham Singh had made the name of Punjabi warriors known in the western world. The people of Surnam village proud of him, went to the extent of selling their homes and their lands to raise money and fight for his freedom in the courts.

A delegation of Sikhs arrived in London to meet Sardar Udham Singh and told him that they had approached Krishna Menon, a high-ranking lawyer to take up his case. They said that Menon will not even let his hair to be undone. To which Udham Singh asked…

How could they save me now? For I have already confessed killing the common butcher, that I have killed Michael O'Dwyer. To which Krishna Menon replied saying that he will prove that Udham Singh at the time of the assassination was not in stable mental condition. Hearing this, Udham Singh laughed out. Later with tears in his eyes, he said, "This is what the British want. They can hide their crimes by calling me crazy, but no, I will not allow this to happen in exchange for saving my skin.”

He went on saying that he will hang to his death and thus tell the entire world how the British killed thousands of his unarmed brothers and sisters in Jalliianwala Bagh on the Baisakhi of 1919 by indiscriminately firing bullets at them. The lawyer hired by them having spent a lot of time with the British has become one of them himself. To understand him, they need to know that his purpose by killing O’Dwyer is now complete. There isn’t any need to save his life anymore. While in prison, the British had refused Gutka Sahibs to him to recite his prayers. Neither did they allow him newspapers to learn about what was going on in Punjab at that time. He requested for these to be arranged and was extremely eager in learning from them about the on-going freedom movement in Punjab, and what effect the assassination was having on the politics of the sub-continent at that time.

What made Sardar Udham Singh very delighted from the visit of his well-wishers was learning that famous heroes of the freedom struggle like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were also acknowledging Udham Singh now. His name was being mentioning in crowded assemblies as source of encouragement, and the sky was echoing with slogans of “Inqalab Zindabad”, a Long-lived Revolution.

Then looking at everyone, Udham Singh asked what Gandhi had to say about him?

Hearing this, the faces of the well-wishers fell into tears and there was silence everywhere.

Gandhi had expressed great regret over the death of General O'Dwyer. He had said that no one madman should affect the political situation at that time.

Gandhi had considered this act as madness. He in turn expressed joy at the escape of the other British officers, the Marquess of Zetland and the Baron of Lamington.

Shackled and standing behind the bars of the jail, Udham Singh sighed and was in tears. He was saddened that a man like Gandhi who had styled himself as the soul-inspiration of the people would say something like this about a poor like himself. Udham Singh on the other hand had followed the path told to him by Dasam Patshah Sri Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj ji. An orphan born to a poor mother and father had nothing else to offer except his body itself at the feet of his Guru.

Slavery is indeed a very bad thing. The root of slavery lies in the hearts and minds of people.

This is what Udham Singh believed, and he was proud of the farmers and laborers of his country and that come one day, they will end the shackles of slavery from the foreign British rule.

Shaheed Udham Singh was hanged to his death at 9 am on 31st July, 1940 in London's Pattonville Jail.



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