I belong to Jammu, the city that was once connected by rail and road with Sialkot.
Some time ago, I learned that Jammu also is the family name, especially in the Sikh community, though rare among numerous Punjabi surnames.
However, I discovered that one of Punjab’s great martyrs, Sardar Udham Singh’s family name, was Jammu.
But he did not carry it as part of the mandate by Guru Gobind Singh to use only Singh as the last name.
My quest was how the few Punjab families acquired their last name Jammu!
Perhaps their ancestors had roots in Jammu. Or someone in the ancestral lineage was inspired by the gallantry of the Dogra community dominating the Jammu region, that Jammu was acquired as part of their last name to infuse with the Punjabi spirit of courage and bravery.
Udham Singh was among India’s independence movement revolutionary heroes who sacrificed their lives to seek justice and freedom.
He avenged the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy by assassinating Lt. governor of Punjab Michael O’Dwyer, who supported the massacre in 1919 under the command of General Reginald Dyer.
He shot dead O’Dwyer in 1940 in a London hall where the governor was about to address two Indian associations.
The great martyr Udham Singh was charged with “murder” and sentenced to death.
These are his final words at the trial: “I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For the full 21 years, I have been trying to wreak vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under British rule. I have protested against this; it was my duty. What greater honour could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland”.
While having some nostalgic feelings about the city of my childhood, I salute the revolutionary spirit of Shaheed Udham Singh “Jammu.”
(Promod Puri resides in Vancouver, Canada. Website: promodpuri.com)