Who was freedom fighter Udham Singh?
Why in the news?
- December 26 is the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Udham Singh, known for avenging the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. He killed Michael O’Dwyer, the colonial official considered responsible for Jallianwala Bagh, where over 1,000 men, women and children lost their lives, and more than 1,200 were wounded.
- There is a continued demand to establish his statue in the Parliament.
About Udham Singh
- Born in Punjab, he was 19 during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and was severely injured during the massacre. It is believed that he took vow there to take revenge.
- Then he became a political activist of the Ghadar Party in the US. Ghadar Party is a multi-ethnic party believed to have communist tendencies and was founded by Sohan Singh Bhakna in 1913. Headquartered in California, the party was committed to the ouster of the British from India.
- In 1934, he went to London to assassinate Micheal O’Dwyer, who in 1919 had been the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab and, unsurprisingly, Singh considered O’Dwyer to be responsible for the massacre.
- Instead of General Dyer, who instructed his men to open fire at the crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, O’Dwyer is considered to be the actual perpetrator, since Dyer could not have executed it without his permission.
- In 1940, Udham Singh shot O’Dwyer at a meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hill. He was sentenced to death in England and was hanged on July 31, 1940. His remains were sent to India in 1974 to his village in Punjab for cremation.
About Jallianwala Bagh massacre
- After passing the Rowlatt Act, the Punjab Government set out to suppress all opposition.
- On April 13, 1919, the public had gathered to celebrate Baisakhi. However, the British point of view, as seen from the documents present in the National Archives of India, indicates that it was a political gathering.
- In Spite of General Dyer’s orders prohibiting unlawful assembly, people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh, where two resolutions were to be discussed, one condemning the firing on April 10 and the other requesting the authorities to release their leaders (Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew).
- When the news reached him Brigadier-General Dyer, headed to the Bagh with his troops.
- He entered the Bagh, deployed his troops and ordered them to open fire without giving any warning. People rushed to the exits but Dyer directed his soldiers to fire at the exit.
- The firing continued for 10-15 minutes. 1650 rounds were fired. The firing ceased only after the ammunition had run out. The total estimated figure of the dead as given by General Dyer was 291. However, other reports including that of a committee headed by Madan Mohan Malviya put the figure of dead at over 500.
View all comments