Vicky Kaushal's upcoming movie directed by Shoojit Sircar is suddenly doing rounds amidst all digital and electronic news portals, as he's set to play the daring martyr Sardar Udham Singh.
While we can't wait to see how Vicky manages to portray the freedom fighter, we thought it would be best to throw some light on Udham Singh's life, for people who're unaware of his life and struggles, while he avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre which took place on April 13, 1919, was one of the most brutal attacks to have taken place on Indian soil. About 1,500 unarmed people lost their lives and many were gravely injured. Amongst the people present there, a young orphan by the name of Udham Singh was also present, who managed to escape the massacre alive. The 20-year-old was scarred for life, enough to remember the atrocities caused and to avenge the death of thousands of people present there on that ill-fated day.
This is the story of Udham Singh, a brave martyr, we all need in today's day and age.
Udham Singh was born on 26th of December 1899 and was orphaned at birth. He was brought to the Khalsa orphanage in Amritsar when he was 5 and was given values any self-sustaining boy learns at that age. Along with a certain set of value systems that was bestowed upon him from the orphanage, Singh was also growing up at a time when Punjab was in deep political turmoil as he grew, observing the changes that were taking place around him.The Uproar
In the year 1919, a popular resentment was making its way through against the British in Punjab, due to the way they used to recruit soldiers and make them a part of the British army. There was also resentment on how the British forced contributions of funds towards World War I. In addition to these two issues, the British government passed the 'Rowlatt Act', which solely came into power to extend and strengthen the repressive wartime measures.
Because of such a stringent and a counterproductive act, Mahatma Gandhi called for a country-wide 'hartal' (protest)and he received a positive response from Punjab for the same. This left the then British administration in Punjab, namely Lt. Governor Michael O'Dwyer absolutely panic-stricken.
Due to the hartal, a number of local leaders supporting it were arrested by the Britishers under the Rowlatt Act and were imprisoned. This was obviously not taken too well in Punjab, the population which was supporting Gandhi's protest to the hilt. Revolts broke out in the state as anger and discontent were looming the territory like any distraught soul. Riots broke out between the British troops and civilians.
To restore order in the state, the Governor handed charge of the situation to Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer. The first step Dyer took to uproot tensions, was ban public gatherings, since they accumulated mass protests and riots, according to him.Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
On April 13, 1919, of about 20,000 unarmed men, women and children gathered at Amritsar's Jallianwala Bagh, on the day of the Baisakhi festival (festival of harvest), to celebrate it in an open space. Many of them had come from out of towns unaware of the ban on public gatherings. Udham Singh and his friends were present at Jallianwala on the same day to serve the turn-out with water and other services.
While the crowd gathered to celebrate the festival, General Dyer arrived with his troops, sealed the only exit to the park and opened fire without any warning on the unarmed crowd. The crowd ran helter-skelter for their lives, but in reality, the park didn't have any place to shelter anyone from the firing. Except there was a well, right in the middle of it, where several women and children jumped in to seek protection. Many people lost their lives in the horrific blood bath, but according to the official tally, there were 400 killed and 1200 injured, however, unofficial records state the count was a lot higher.
© Columbia Pictures
Udham was just 20 when he experienced such brutality. This experience made him a part of the armed resistance that was unfolding in and outside of India and soon he made his way to the United States of America.His Fight Began
While in San Francisco, Singh came across some members of the Ghadar party, a revolutionary movement organised by immigrant Punjabi-Sikhs to secure India's independence. The diaspora operated from the USA and aided India with funds that would help make progress with the fight for Independence back in India. He got involved in the movement to a point where he would travel across the USA, using several aliases such as Ude Singh, Sher Singh and Frank Brazil, just to help out with the movement.
In 1927, Bhagat Singh asked Udham Singh to head back to India to help out with the revolution back in the country. The year he came back, he got arrested for running the Ghadr party's radical publication 'Ghadr Di Gunj'. He was jailed for four years and was released in 1931.
Even though Singh was released in 1931, he was under constant surveillance of the police because of Bhagat Singh's circle of influence back then. He eventually escaped the surveillance and made his way to Germany to plan the events for the for independence without any intervention. Singh eventually wanted to make his way to England with an aim to execute Michael O'Dwyer, since he was the governor then who was responsible for the brutal Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Singh finally reached England in 1933 and fell in the socialist groups while working as a mechanic, carpenter and doing other odd jobs.His Fight Came At A Cost
Even though he was involved in odd jobs and a fair bit of acting (playing extras) in two Alexander Korda movies, he never forgot his eventual goal- the execution of Dwyer and upon hearing Dwyer was going to make a speech at a conference in London's Caxton Hall, in March 1940, Singh made it a point to sneak in to the hall, while the conference was going on.
He had hidden a revolver in his coat when he entered the hall and shot twice at Dwyer after he was done making his speech and moved away from the platform. Singh didn't try and run away or resist the arrest that was made right after. Dwyer died on the spot and Singh was arrested right after, completing his life's mission to avenge the death of thousands of innocent people.
© Twitter, Udham Singh, Second from the left arested.
Udham Singh was hanged on July 31, 1940, and during the time of his trial, he'd given his name as Mohammad Singh Azad, just to conclude that India was still a secular country and all religions would fight together to do away with the British rule for good. He'd even tattooed the name on his arm to prove the same. He died in London at the Pentonville prison and was buried within prison grounds.
In 1974, Singh's last remains were exhumed and brought to India, before he was cremated in Punjab where he was born and his ashes were scattered in the Satluj river, where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru's ashes were scattered post their death.
With much valour, patriotism and bravery, Udham Singh finally avenged the death of thousands of innocent lives, by giving up his own, in order to honour his motherland and teach the Britishers that no matter what they do or how they rule the nation, India will never be divided and always be one.
The Shaheed left a legacy that was eventually responsible for our independence. People still narrate his stories through movies and plays and recently the Indian band-Sca Vengers released a song dedicated just to him, with a very interesting animated video called 'Frank Brazil', which was one of Udham Singh's alias.
The legend of Udham Singh will forever live on and anytime we face discrimination, oppression, injustice or inequality, we must remember we always have the will and the might to fight against it, just like Udham Singh did for the country.