Ram Mohammed Singh Azad (Udham Singh) Born 26 December 1899 Sunam, Punjab, British India Died 31 July 1940 (aged 40) Pentonville Prison, United Kingdom Organization Ghadar Party, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association,lndian Workers’ Association Political movement Indian Independence movement Religion Sikh Mohammed was an Indian revolutionary, best known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer in March 1940 in what has been described as an avenging of the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre. His name was Udhan Singh but he changed it to Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, symbolising the equality of all faith and of the three major religions of
India: Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism. Singh is considered one of the best-known revolutionaries of the Indian independence struggle; he is also sometimes referred to as Shaheed-I-Azam Sardar Udham Singh (the expression “Shaheed-i- Azam,” Urdu: 3-45, means “the great martyr”). Bhagat Singh and Singh along with Chandrasekhar Azad,RaJguru and Sukhdev, were among the most famous revolutionaries in the first half of 20th-century India. For their actions, the British government labelled these men as “India’s earliest Marxists”. He was born in Shahpur Kalan village in Sunam Tehsil in Sangrur district of Punjab, India.
He was born to a Sikh farming family headed by Sardar Tehal Singh Jammu (known as Chuhar Singh before taking the Amrit). Sardar Tehal Singh was at that time working as a watchman on a railway crossing in the village of Upalli. Singh’s mother died in 1901. His father followed in 1907. With the help of Bhai Kishan Singh Ragi, both Sher Singh and his elder brother, Mukta Singh, were taken in by the Central Khalsa Orphanage Putlighar in Amritsar on 24 October 1907. They were administered the Sikh initiatory rites at theorphanage and received new names: Sher Singh became Udham Singh, and Mukta Singh became Sadhu Singh.
Sadhu Singh died in 1917, which came as a great shock to his brother. While at orphanage, Singh was trained in various arts and crafts. He passed his matriculation examination in 1918 and left the orphanage in 1919. On 13 April 1919, over twenty thousand unarmed Indians (Sikhs & Hindus), peacefully assembled in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, to listen to several prominent local leaders speak out against British colonial rule in India and against the arrest and deportation of Dr. Satya Pal, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, and few others under the unpopular Rowlatt Act.
Singh and his friends from the orphanage ere serving water to the crowd. Not much later, a band of 90 soldiers armed with two armoured cars with mounted machine guns. The vehicles were unable to enter the Bagh owing to the narrow entrance. Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer was in command. The troops had entered the Bagh by about 5 PM. With no warning to the crowd to disperse, Dyer ordered his troops to open fire. The attack lasted ten minutes. Since the only exit was barred by soldiers, people tried to climb the walls of the park.
Some also Jumped into a well inside the compound to escape the bullets. A laque in the monument says that 120 bodies were plucked out of the well alone. Singh mainly held Michael O’Dwyer responsible for what came to be known as the Amritsar Massacre. New research supporting this fact reveals the massacre to have occurred with the Governor’s full connivance “to teach the Indians a lesson, to make a wide impression and to strike terror throughout Punjab”. The incident had greatly shaken young Singh and proved a turning point in his life.
After bathing in the holy sarovar (pool of nectar), Singh took a silent vow and solemn pledge in front f the Golden Temple to wreak a vengeance on the perpetrators of the crime and to restore honour to what he saw as a humiliated nation. The opportunity came on 13 March 1940, almost 21 years after the Jallianwala Bagh killings: A Joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society (now Royal Society for Asian Affairs) was scheduled at Caxton Hall, and among the speakers was Michael O’Dwyer. Singh concealed his revolver in a book specially cut for the purpose and managed to enter the hall.
He took up his position against the wall. At the end of the meeting, the athering stood up, and O’Dwyer moved towards the platform to talk to Zetland. Singh pulled his revolver and fired. O’Dwyer was hit twice and died immediately. Then Singh fired at Zetland, the Secretary of State for India, injuring him but not seriously. Incidentally, Luis Dane was hit by one shot, which broke his radius bone and dropped him to the ground with serious injuries. A bullet also hit Lord Lamington, whose right hand was shattered. Singh did not intend to escape.
He was arrested on the spot. His weapon, a knife, his diary, and a bullet fired on the day are ow kept in the Black Museum of Scotland Yard. While in Police custody, Singh remarked: “Is Zetland dead? He ought to be. I put two into him right there”, indicating with his hand the pit of his stomach on the left side. Singh remained quiet for several minutes and then again said: “Only one dead, eh? I thought I could get more. I must have been too slow. There were a lot of women about, you know”. On 1 April 1940, Singh was formally charged with the murder of Michael O’Dwyer.
While awaiting trial in Brixton Prison Singh went on a 42-day hunger strike and had to be forcibly fed aily. On 4 June 1940, he was committed to trial, at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, before Justice Atkinson. When the court asked about his name, he replied “Ram Mohammad Singh Azad”, (Ram as a Hindu name, Mohammad as a Muslim name and Singh as a Sikh name). Azad means to be free. This demonstrated the four things that were dear to him and his transcendence of race, caste, creed, and religion. Singh explained: “l did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. ” Singh was convicted, and Atkinson sentenced him to death.
On 31 July 1940, Singh was hanged at Pentonville Prison. As with other executed prisoners, he was buried later that afternoon within the prison grounds. In March 1940, Indian National Congress leader Jawahar Lal Nehru, condemned the action of Singh as senseless, but statement in the daily Partap: “l salute Shaheed-I-Azam Udham Singh with reverence who had kissed the noose so that we may be free. ” The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army condemned Mahatama Gandhi’s statement referring to Bhagat Singh as well as also to the capital punishment of Singh, which it considered to be a challenge to the Indian Youths.