Udham Singh (26 December 1899 – 31 July 1940) 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.
Singh changed his name to Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, symbolising the three major religions of India: Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism. Singh is a prominent figure of the Indian independence struggle. He is sometimes referred to as Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh (the expression “Shaheed-i-Azam,” Urdu: شهید اعظم, means “the great martyr”).
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh
On April 10, 1919, a number of local leaders allied to the Indian National Congress including Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew were arrested under the Rowlatt Act. Protestors against the arrests were fired on by British troops, precipitating a riot during which British banks were burned and four Europeans were killed. On April 13, over twenty thousand unarmed protestors were assembled in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. Singh and his friends from the orphanage were serving water to the crowd.
Troops were dispatched to restore order after the riots, under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer. Dyer ordered his troops to fire without warning on the assembled crowd in Jallianwala Bagh. Since the only exit was barred by soldiers, people tried to escape by climbing the park walls or jumping into a well for protection. An estimated 379 people were killed and over 1200 were wounded although that has been debated.
Singh was deeply affected by the event. The governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, had supported the massacre, and Singh held him responsible.