It took over four decades to put up a statue in Amritsar to honour the man whom people regard as a hero for avenging the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Shaheed Udham Singh was hanged on July 31, 1940 in London for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab during the Jallianwala Bagh firing in 1919. While the orders for the statue were placed during the regime of Giani Zail Singh in Punjab (1972-77), it was only in 1990 that the statue was installed at Hall Gate, Amritsar. Jallianwala Bagh got a Shaheed Udham Singh statue only last year during Baisakhi, making it two for the city that suffered the horrific massacre.
Interestingly, both were not funded by the government, and required intervention from the civil society for installation.
Deep Singh, president Shahid Udham Singh Yadgiri Committee, Amritsar said, “Punjab government had given orders to a Mumbai firm for the statues of Shaheed Udham Singh and Madan Lal Dhingra. Some payment was also made by government to the firm initially. However, for a long time no one went back to bring back the order from the firm and pay rest of the amount. Then it was our organisation that approached the firm in 1990s for statue of Udham Singh.”
Shahid Udham Singh Yadgiri Committee is an organisation founded by the Kamboj community, to which Shaheed Udham Singh belonged.
Deep Singh added: “The firm owner told us that he wouldn’t deliver the statute until we take delivery of both the statutes by making payments of both. So, we paid for both and brought statues back to Amritsar. It was only then that the statute was installed at Hall Gate in 1990 that too with the lobbying by former MP from our community, Kirpal Singh.”
The second statue installed at the Jallianwala Bagh is also funded by the Kamboj community.
Deep Singh said, “National body of the Kamboj community had reached out to the Union government to install the statue at Jallianwala Bagh. Several meetings were held to take the permission before installation of the statue. Again, Kamboj community paid for the statue and government allowed us to install it at Jallianwala Bagh.”