Martyrdom day of Ram Mohammad Singh Azad who waited 21 years for his dream to come true
Kanwar Inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in/ Chandigarh
“If you have a passion to achieve something in life, you will achieve it, no matter, how much time it will take”. This was proved by Shaheed Udham Singh, who took revenge of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, that happened in 1919 , by killing Michael O’Dywer in 1940, the former lieutenant governor of Punjab, who ordered the firing at Jallianwala bagh, killing innocent Indians, while celebrating Baisakhi.
Udham Singh was born as Sher Singh on 26 December 1899 at Sunam, Sangrur district of Punjab. His father, Chuhar Ram, had changed his name to Tehal Singh after becoming a baptised Sikh. Udham Singh lost his mother, Naraini, when he was just two. His father was a farmer and also worked as the railway crossing watchman in the village of Upalli. He lost his father at four, and his elder brother, Sadhu Singh, at eight. After his father’s death, Singh and his elder brother, Mukta Singh, were taken in by the Central Khalsa Orphanage Putlighar in Amritsar. He passed his matriculation examination in 1918.
On 13 April, over twenty thousand unarmed People were assembled in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar to protest against the Rowlatt Act, Udham Singh and his friends from the orphanage were serving water to the crowd, when the massacre happened.
Udham Singh became involved in revolutionary politics and was deeply influenced by Bhagat Singh and his revolutionary group. In 1924, Udham Singh became involved with the Ghadar Party, organising Indians overseas towards overthrowing colonial rule. In 1927, he returned to India on orders from Bhagat Singh, bringing 25 associates as well as revolvers and ammunition. Soon after, he was arrested for possession of unlicensed arms.
Upon his release from prison in 1931, Singh’s movements were under constant surveillance by the Punjab police. He made his way to Kashmir, escape to Germany. In 1934, he reached London, where he found employment as an engineer. Privately, he formed plans to assassinate Michael O’Dwyer.
On 13 March 1940, Michael O’Dwyer was scheduled to speak at Caxton Hall, London. Singh concealed inside his jacket pocket a revolver , entered the hall and found an open seat. As the meeting concluded, Singh shot O’Dwyer twice as he moved towards the speaking platform. One of these bullets passed through O’Dwyer’s heart and right lung, killing him almost instantly. He was arrested immediately and tried for the killing.
On 1 April 1940, Udham Singh was formally charged with the murder of Michael O’Dwyer, and remanded in custody at Brixton Prison. While in custody, he called himself “Ram Mohammad Singh Azad”:The fir st three words of the name reflect the three major religious communities of Punjab (Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh); the last word “azad” (literally “free”) reflects his anti-colonial sentiment. Singh was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On 31 July 1940, Singh was hanged at Pentonville Prison.
He only had his sister, Aas Kaur, in the family when he died.
In 1974, Singh’s remains were exhumed and repatriated to India at the request of MLA Sadhu Singh Thind. Thind accompanied the remains back to India, where the casket was received by Indira Gandhi, Shankar Dayal Sharma and Zail Singh. These were kept in Delhi’s Kapurthala House for three days to enable the public to pay homage. The remains arrived in Sunam on July 31, 1974, where the last rites were performed in the presence of the then Chief Minister Giani Zail Singh.
Later, his ashes were kept in seven urns. One each was immersed in the waters at Kiratpur and Haridwar, another was taken to Rauza Sharif, Sirhind, and the fourth one to Jallianwala Bagh. The fifth was emptied in the foundations of a minaret built in Sunam in the martyr’s memory. The remaining two were kept in a library of a Govt Shaheed Udham Singh College, at Sunam.