By Promod Puri
One of my Facebook friends’ last name is Jammu. It intrigues me little as that is the name of the city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir known for its beauty as well as the still unresolved “Kashmir Problem”.
My FB friend, in fact, belongs to Patiala in Punjab, and now he seems to be settled in Canada. In his introduction, he told me he had never been to Jammu, the city to which I belong. In our brief communication, he said the family name Jammu is very rare among the numerous last names in the Sikh community.
An interesting fact he disclosed me that one of Punjab’s great martyrs Sardar Udham Singh’s family name was also Jammu, but he did not carry it as part of the dictum by Guru Gobind Singh to use only Singh as last name.
My quest is how the few Sikh families acquired their last name Jammu!
Perhaps their ancestors had roots in Jammu. Or someone in the ancestral lineage was inspired by the valor of the Dogra community dominating the Jammu region, that Jammu was acquired as part of their last name to identify with the Punjabi spirit of courage to fight against slavery and injustice.
Udham Singh was among those 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 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 the British rule. I have protested, against this, it was my duty. What a greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland”. Source: Wikipedia
Well, while having some nostalgic feelings about the city of my childhood, I salute the revolutionary spirit of Shaheed Udham Singh “Jammu”.