If a kid sees a massacre, what does he do? He cries, he is angry, he gets sad, he is scared, but more importantly, he is scarred. That is what happened with Udham. He had just witnessed Jalianwala Bagh massacre. 1605 rounds were fired that day.
As he grew up, he realised what was going on around him. He dug deeper and found out shocking details. Reginald Dyer, the General who had ordered this ghastly massacre on unarmed civilians, was somewhat of a hero back home. He explained later that this act “was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience.” This is the excerpt from a farce of a trial that Dyer faced.
“..supposing the passage was sufficient to allow the armoured cars to go in, would you have opened fire with the machine guns?”
“I think probably, yes.”
“In that case, the casualties would have been much higher?”
If this does not boil one’s blood, I am not sure what does. Udham was enraged. He tried to forget that day when hundreds of people were mercilessly shot. He even tried to forget the fact that 3 days later when people protested at Gujranwala against Jalianwala massacre, British used Air force aircrafts to gun down those people and disperse the crowd. What kind of civilised force does that? It was not a civilised force, it was an occupational force and young Udham realised it soon enough. Savages only understand the language if savagery. Soon he came in contact with Bhagat Singh and friends after joining the Ghadar Party in 1924. He was arrested in 1927 and sentenced to jail for 5 years. But the fire in his heart kept burning. He would have to wait longer for his revenge.
On 13 March 1940, Michael O’Dwyer was scheduled to speak at a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society. Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer, was Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab in India from 1912 until 1919. O’Dwyer endorsed General Dyer’s action regarding the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and termed it a “correct action”. Udham Singh concealed a revolver in a book. He entered the hall, and stood against the wall. As the meeting concluded, he shot O’Dwyer twice as he moved towards the speaking platform, killing him immediately. Udham was about to be Shaheed Udham Singh now. He did not flee the hall and gave his arrest. This was one of his last addresses to Judge Atkinson-
“I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What a greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?”
Shaheed Udham Singh was martyred on today’s day, ie 31st, July in the year 1940.
Sadly, Mahatma Gandhi and Congress condemned his actions. Gandhi said, “the outrage has caused me deep pain. I regard it as an act of insanity. I hope this will not be allowed to affect political judgement”.
What political judgement!! British were already facing the brunt of World War 2. It was time to pin them hard to gain our freedom. What we did instead was to keep helping the British by sending Indian troops, Indian ammunition and raw materials to Europe. It created a famine in Bengal but supporting the British on war front was more important. Our beloved leaders chose to discredit a brave heart for what he did – Avenge hundreds of families who lost their loved ones. He showed that we are not a race of cowards but we are a race of warriors who would not offer our right cheeks forward.
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