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NEW DELHI: Indian martyr Udham Singh, who killed Jallianwalla Bagh mastermind Michael O’Dwyer in London in 1940, changed his name to Mohamed Singh Azad, not Ram Mohamed Singh Azad, says a report.
It is often mentioned that the great martyr changed his name to `Ram Mohamed Singh Azad’.
But new evidence shows that Udham Singh changed his name to `Mohamed Singh Azad’ and he didn’t want the British authorities to alter it during his trial, says a report in the Tribune, citing a new book on the martyr.
When he was arrested after the killing of Michael O’Dwyer at Caxton Hall in Westminster on March 13, 1940, police recorded his name as Mohamed Singh Azad. Udham Singh also signed on police documents under the name of `Mohamed Singh Azad, according to the report.
The book titled `Azadi di Shama da Parwana: Mahaan Ghadari Inqulabi Shaheed Udham Singh’ has been written by Indian Railway engineer Rakesh Kumar who also belongs to Sunam where Udham Singh was born in Punjab.
The author cites letters and documents in support of Udham Singh’s decision to call himself `Mohamed Singh Azad.’ Rakesh Kumar procured these letters and documents from the British Archives after they were released by the British government in 1997.
According to Rakesh Kumar, “In many documents, ‘Ram’ is prefixed to the name of Mohamed Singh Azad. But, in many of his handwritten letters and documents, Udham Singh signed under the name of Mohamed Singh Azad to portray himself as a secular figure.’’
He said, “There have been attempts by politicians to tamper with the martyr’s name (by adding `Ram’) to appropriate his legacy for political propaganda.’’
Citing one document, Rakesh Kumar said that when Udham Singh was arrested after he shot dead Michael O’Dwyer on March 13, 1940, he signed as Mohamed Singh Azad at the Cannon Row Police Station ‘A’ Division, London.
And when he was remanded to police custody, police mentioned his name as Mohamed Singh Azad. “The Metropolitan Police had reported that Mohamed Singh Azad was remanded to police custody up to March 21, 1940 for killing Michael O’Dwyer,” according to Rakesh Kumar.
In fact, a statement by John Swain, Divisional Detective Inspector ‘A’ Division, said that at the time of Udham Singh’s arrest, a tattoo on his arm read “Mohamed Singh Azad”.
Udham Singh also wrote a letter from Brixton Prison to Sands, Superintendent Police, on March 16, 1940, telling the authorities not to change his name from Mohamed Singh Azad.
In many letters by Udham Singh to his friend Avtar Singh Johl and a photograph he sent to his friend Bishan Singh, he also signed only as ‘MS Azad’, according to Rakesh Kumar.
Udham Singh was hanged on July 31, 1940. His remains were brought back to India in 1974, and cremated at his native Sunam in Punjab.