The date of 13th March holds an important significance for India, as on this day in the year 1940, popular Indian revolutionary Udham Singh had assassinated the former Lieutenant Governor of the state of Punjab under British India—Michael O’Dwyer. This was Singh’s way of retaliating and avenging the tragic Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that happened in Amritsar in the year 1919.
Udham Singh was born on the 26th of December, 1899, as Sher Singh, in Sangrur district of the north Indian state of Punjab. He had an older brother, and after their father’s death, the two brothers were taken care of by an orphanage in Punjab, and it was there that Singh received the name Udham Singh. After passing his matriculation, he left the orphanage in 1919.
The tragic killing of over 1500 people in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre had deeply affected Udham Singh and he held the then Lieutenant Governor of the state of Punjab under British India, Michael O’Dwyer responsible for the same, because the latter had supported the massacre without any qualms.
He soon became a part of the revolutionary politics in India and was deeply influenced by young Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh. He joined the Ghadar Party in the year 1924 and went abroad to create an organization of Indians residing overseas to defeat the colonial rule. It was in the year 1927 that Bhagat Singh called him back to India, and so he did, with 25 revolutionaries, and a list of arms and ammunitions. However, he was caught and arrested and his possessions were confiscated, leaving him to bear the punishment of five years in prison.
After he was released from prison in the year 1931, the Punjab Police constantly kept him under surveillance to make sure he doesn’t plot again, but he managed to reach Kashmir and escaped the clutches of the police by evading to Germany, and in the year 1934, he reached London, where he planned the assassination of Michael O’Dwyer.
So on the 13th of March 1940, when Dwyer was scheduled to deliver a speech at one of the joint meetings of the East India Company at Caxton Hall in London, Udham Singh took an empty seat and took out the revolver, shooting Dwyer twice as soon as the meeting was concluded. He didn’t even make an effort to flee the spot, and was arrested on the site immediately.
He was given a death sentenced and hanged on the 31st of July, 1940.