Born on December 26, 1899, in Sunam, Punjab, Udham Singh's journey from an orphaned child to a revolutionary freedom fighter is a testament to his indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to India's struggle for independence.
Udham Singh, initially known as Sher Singh, faced the harsh realities of life early on after losing his parents. In 1907, he found refuge at the Central Khalsa Orphanage. The tragic Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, where Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer opened fire on unarmed protesters, profoundly impacted Singh's conscience. Whether he was present during the shooting or arrived afterward as a volunteer from a Sikh orphanage remains a point of debate. Nevertheless, the massacre left an indelible mark on his soul.
The Nankana Sahib tragedy in 1921 and his involvement with the Ghadar Party of Kartar Singh Sarabha deeply influenced Udham Singh. In 1924, he became an active member of the Ghadar Party in America, simultaneously establishing the Azad Party. His interactions with fellow revolutionary Bhagat Singh further shaped his ideological stance.
Udham Singh extended his revolutionary activities globally, establishing contacts with like-minded individuals in countries such as France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Iran, Burma, and Japan. In 1927, he was arrested in Amritsar for possessing revolvers and sentenced to five years in prison.
Upon his release in 1931, Udham Singh, now using that name, obtained a passport and traveled to England. He toured several European countries in the years leading up to World War II. The outbreak of the war provided an opportunity for revolutionaries to act against the British Raj, which they perceived as weakened by the global conflict.
After a brief trial, Udham Singh was hanged at Pentonville Prison north of London on July 31, 1940. Known by various names, the tattoo 'Mohammed Singh Azad' on his arm symbolized the united struggle of the Indian population against imperialism, slavery, and repression.
Shaheed Udham Singh's life is a saga of sacrifice, courage, and relentless pursuit of justice. His actions, particularly the assassination of Michael O'Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab during the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, resonate as a profound statement against colonial oppression. As we commemorate his birth anniversary, let us reflect on the legacy of this unsung hero, whose sacrifice continues to inspire generations in the quest for freedom and justice.