Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film ‘Sardar Udham’ is based on the life of famous revolutionary Sardar Udham Singh. Vicky Kaushal played the main character in this film released on Amazon Prime. Sardar Udham Singh shot and killed Michael O’Dwyer in London. This incident of the year 1940 was actually a revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. At the time of that massacre, Michael Dyer was the governor of Punjab during the British rule. He had justified the murder in Jallianwala Bagh.
Paying respect to the heroism of Udham Singh, Salman Rushdie in his novel ‘Shalimar the Clown’ wrote, “For every ‘O Dyer’ there is a ‘Shaheed Udham Singh’.”
Gallantry Story of Udham Singh
The story of the man who kissed the noose for our freedom is a part of the national folk tales revolving around India’s freedom struggle. We all know how and why he patiently planned to kill Dyer for twenty years. But, not much information is available about why he kept his surname ‘Mohammed Singh Azad’.
Yes, some parts of history definitely tell why he was so attached to this name.
A scouring through the pages of India’s past reveals that Udham Singh was in favor of religious and class solidarity. When he was being tried for the murder of Dyer, he gave his name as Mohammad Singh Azad. He also had a tattoo on his arm, which symbolized that all religions in India were united in his protest against British rule.
When Udham Singh replied ‘Go to hell’
In March 1940, Udham Singh wrote a letter to the Superintendent of Inquiry. It was said in it that the officers should follow the name given by him ‘Mohammed Singh Azad’. Even when some people criticized him for his name, he gave a simple reply to his critics – ‘Go to hell’. But he could not compel the British government to use his surname.
Indeed, the British government realized the impact this symbolic name could have. They had gathered information about Udham Singh’s real name. He signed political and prison correspondence under his surname. Apart from this, it is said that many years back in 1931, Udham Singh had also written the name ‘Ram Mohammad Singh Azad’ on the sign board of his small shop in Amritsar.
Journalist Anita Anand has written in her book ‘A Patient Assassin’, ‘Udham Singh was an atheist like Bhagat Singh. He considered her as his role model. They were close friends and even remained in jail together in the 1920s.
“He’s Waiting For Me”
How much influence Bhagat Singh had on Udham Singh, it can be understood from the letter written by him on 30 March 1940-
It read, “It’s been ten years since my friend left me. But I am sure that after my death, I will definitely meet him. He’s waiting for me. That day was 23rd (when Bhagat Singh was hanged) and it is expected that I will also be hanged on the same day.”
Furthermore, most historians agree that Udham Singh’s nickname was specifically ‘Azad’ to put a strain on the political ideology. He had realized how important the unity of all religious communities was in the fight for freedom from British imperialism. His name was symbolic of the three major religions of India.
When his remains were brought to India, decades later, in August 1974, he was cremated by a Hindu pandit, a Muslim cleric and a Sikh granthi, and his ashes were scattered at sacred sites associated with these religions.
Original article: Sanchari Pal
Editing: Archana Dubey
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