It was nearing evening on March 13, 1940. At Caxton Hall in London, a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society was in progress. One of the attendees was a man named Udham Singh. As the meeting ended, Singh pulled out a revolver from his overcoat and fired at one of the speakers -Michael O’Dwyer, former Governor of Punjab. Two shots hit him and he was killed on the spot.
Singh was arrested and later put on trial. He justified his act at the trial, saying that O’Dwyer deserved it. Many people at that time believed O’Dwyer was responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. During his tenure, British troops under the command of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer had opened fire at a gathering in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh, killing hundreds of unarmed people.
The Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru was initially critical of Singh’s actions, but much later as Prime Minister he paid rich tributes to him. Singh’s remains were exhumed and brought to India in 1974. India’s great political leaders lined up to honour him.
We all continue to derive endless inspiration and love for the nation from his life. Let us all remember the great revolutionary and brave-hearted “Shahid Udham Singh”.
On 31 July 1992 India Post had issued a 100 paise (1 Rupee) postage stamp to commemorate this great freedom fighter.
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