“I am not afraid to die. I am proud to die, to have to free my native land and I hope that when I am gone, I hope that in my place will come thousands of my countrymen to drive you dirty dogs British out; to free my country.”

 

(Udham Singh during his trial in 1940)

 

Born in 1899 in Punjab, Udham Singh was in Jallianwala Bagh distributing water when the tragic massacre of 1919 took place. According to the official report, more than 379 Indians died and over 1200 got wounded. Udham Singh somehow managed to survive. There was no official condemnation of then governor general of Punjab, General Michael O,Dyer, who had sent the military troops. Instead, he was hailed by the British Government as the “savior of Punjab” and was offered many prominent positions even after the massacre. Udham Singh was frustrated and decided to take revenge of the massacre on his own. He waited for 21 years before he killed O,Dyer in London in 1940. During his trial, Udham called himself Muhammad Singh Azad, to show a unity of Hindus and Muslims in their struggles to gain freedom from the British. He also refused to take oath on Guru Granth Sahib and asked for Waris Shah’s “Heer Ranjha” instead. He was hanged four months later by the British Government in London.

The dead body was returned to India in 1974. On his return, Udham Singh must have been pleased to finally see the exit of the British. However, Muhammad Singh Azad would also be confused, shocked to see that he has returned not to Waris Shah’s Punjab but to a Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. He must have struggled to fit in.