Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh in India Date in the current year: July 31, 2024

Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh in India Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh (July 31) is an official observance in the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. It is dedicated to a Punjabi revolutionary best known for his assassination of Michael O’Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of Punjab.

The assassination of Michael O’Dwyer was an act of revenge for his involvement in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, that took place on April 13, 1919. On this day, thousands of people gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden in the city of Amritsar, to celebrate the Baisakhi festival. But the gathering had one more purpose: many locals came to protest against the arrest and deportation of two freedom fighters, Saiduffin Kitchlew and Satya Pal.

The colonial administrators of Punjab feared that a peaceful protest could evolve into a major insurrection. To prevent this, Lieutenant Governor Michael O’Dwyer sanctioned an armed break-up of the protest. Fifty soldiers under the command of Acting Brigadier General Reginald Dyer opened fire on the crowd of unarmed civilians, killing at least 379 people and wounding more than a thousand.

Udhan Singh, then only 19 years old, was present at the protest. He was so impressed by what happened that he joined the revolutionary movement and began to plot revenge against O’Dwyer, whom he held responsible for the massacre. It took Singh over twenty years to carry out his plan.

On March 13, 1940, O’Dwyer was scheduled to speak at a meeting at Caxton Hall in London. Singh purchased a revolver from a soldier in a pub and attended the meeting. As O’Dwyer moved towards the speaking platform to deliver a concluding speech, Singh shot the former lieutenant governor twice. O’Dwyer died almost immediately since one of the bullets passed through his heart and lung.

Singh was arrested, tried for murder and sentenced to death. On July 31, 1940, he was hanged at Pentonville Prison. In India, the reaction to his execution was polarized. Many Indians regarded the assassination of O’Dwyer a righteous response to the brutality of British colonial rule, but others, including Mahatma Gandhi, condemned Singh’s actions.

Be that as it may, today Udham Singh’s death anniversary is an official memorial day in Punjab and Haryana (the latter state split from Punjab in 1966). It is marked with marches and flower-laying ceremonies throughout the state, especially in the Singh’s hometown of Sunam.

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Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh, observances in India, observances in Punjab, observances in Haryana