The birth anniversary of Udham Singh is marked on 26 December each year. Born in 1899 in Punjab’s Sangrur district, Singh was a freedom fighter from the Gadar Party. His father Sardar Tehal Singh Jammu was a farmer, and also worked as a railway crossing watchman in Upali village. Both of Udham Singh’s parents died when he was young and Amritsar’s Central Khalsa Orphanage Putlighar raised him and his elder brother Mukta Singh. Udham Singh passed his matriculation in 1918, and left the orphanage in 1919. In order to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he killed Punjab’s former lieutenant governor, Michael O’Dwyer. He was hanged to death for the same on 31 July 1940.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

On 13 April, 1919, thousands of people assembled at Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh for celebrating Baisakhi and for peacefully protesting against the arrest of some local leaders. General Dyer entered Jallianwala Bagh along with his troops, and blocked the main entrance. He ordered his troops to open fire on the crowd without any warning for around 10 minutes until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. Hundreds of innocent people lost their lives in the unfortunate incident and over a thousand were injured. Udham Singh was present during this incident, and was serving water to the crowd from the orphanage with his friends.

Everything you need to know about freedom fighter Udham Singh

Udham Singh joined the Ghadar Party in 1924. He was arrested for the possession of unlicensed arms after nearly three years and was sentenced to five years in prison. Singh was released from jail in 1931. He successfully escaped to Germany despite being constantly monitored by the police, and reached London in 1934.

Michael O’Dwyer, who was the LG of Punjab during the Jallianwala Bagh incident, was scheduled to give a speech at Caxton Hall in London on 13 March 1940. Singh hid a revolver in a book, and entered the hall. He shot O’Dwyer twice. Singh was formally charged with the murder on 1 April 1940, and he called himself “Ram Mohammad Singh Azad” in custody. The first three names represented the three major religious communities in Punjab – Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh, while the word “Azad” (free) stood for his anti-colonial sentiment. Singh was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On 31 July 1940, he was hanged at London’s Pentonville prison. His remains are still preserved at the Jallianwala Bagh.