- Chandrasekhar Azad
Chandra Shekhar 'Azad'
Rare photograph of Chandra Shekhar Azad
Born 23 July 1906
Badarka Distt. Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died 27 February 1931
Alfred Park Now Azad Park Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Organization Hindustan Republican Association later on Hindustan Socialist Republican Association Political movement Indian Independence Movement Religion Hinduism
Chandra Shekhar Azad (Hindi: चंद्रशेखर आज़ाद, Urdu: چندر شیکھر آزاد, Gujrati: ચંદ્રશેખર આઝાદ, Kannada: ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ ಆಜಾದ್, Malayalam: ചന്ദ്രശേഖർ ആസാദ്, Marathi: चंद्रशेखर आझाद, Telugu: చంద్రశేఖర్ అజాద్), (23 July 1906-27 February 1931) (popularly known as Azad, literally "The liberated") was one of the most important Indian revolutionaries who reorganised the Hindustan Republican Association under the new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) after the death of its founder Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil and three other prominent party leaders, Thakur Roshan Singh, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Ashfaqulla Khan. He is considered to be the mentor of Bhagat Singh and chief strategist of the HSRA.
Chandra Shekhar Azad was born on 23 July 1906 in Saryuparin Brahmins family, in the Badarka village of Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. His full name was Chandra Shekhar Sitaram Tiwari (Azad). His father was Pandit Sitaram Tiwari. He spent his childhood in the village Bhabhra when his father was serving in the erstwhile estate of Alirajpur.
He learned archery from the tribal Bhils of erstwhile Jhabua district which helped him later on during the arms struggle against the Britishers.
His mother Jagrani Devi wanted him to be a Sanskrit scholar and persuaded his father to send him to Kashi Vidyapeeth, Benaras for studying Sanskrit. In December 1921, when Mohandas K. Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Chandrashekhar, then a 14 year old student, joined the movement. As a result, he was arrested and presented before a magistrate. When the magistrate asked his name, he immediately replied "Azad", meaning The Liberated. When he was asked to tell his father's name, he answered- "Swatantra" meaning Freedom. Then, the magistrate asked- "Where do you live?" He answered- "Jailkhana" meaning prison. He was sentenced to imprisonment for fifteen days with hard punishments. Over the punishment he again commented- "Sir! I replied so because I was sure you would send me to prison". This reply of Chandrashekhar elicited a round of laughter from the jury. The magistrate, who had totally lost his temper by now, asked the policemen to flog him fifteen times. With each stroke of the whip, he shouted loudly- "Bharat Mata Ki Jai !" (en.Hail Mother India!). From that day onward, Chandrashekhar Sitaram Tiwari assumed the title 'Azad' and came to be known as Chandrashekhar 'Azad'.
After suspension of the non-cooperation movement in 1922 by Gandhi, Azad became more aggressive on his stance. He committed himself to achieve complete independence by any means. Azad also believed that India's future lay in socialism. He met a young revolutionary Pranvesh Chatterji who introduced him to Ram Prasad who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation. Azad was impressed with the aim of HRA, i.e., an independent India with equal rights and opportunity to everyone without discrimination of caste, creed, religion or social status. On introduction, Bismil was impressed by Azad, when Azad reportedly put his hand over the lighing lamp and did not remove it till his skin burnt. He then became an active member of the HRA and started to collect funds for HRA. Most of the fund collection was through robberies of government property. He also wanted to build a new India based on socialist principles. Azad and his compatriots also planned and executed several acts of violence against the British. Most of his revolutionary activities were planned and executed from Shahjahanpur which was also the hometown of Ram Prasad. He was involved in the famous Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy's train in 1926, and at last the shooting of J.P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.
Formation of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association
Appalled by the brutal violence, Azad felt that violence was acceptable in such a struggle, especially in view of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919, when a British Army unit killed hundreds of unarmed civilians and wounded thousands in Amritsar. The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre deeply influenced young Azad and his contemporaries.
Activities in Jhansi
Chandra Shekhar Azad made Jhansi his organisation's hub for a considerable duration. He chose the forest of Orchha situated at about fifteen kilometers from Jhansi for shooting practice. He was an expert marksman and used to train other members of his group in Orchha. Near the forest he built a hut aside a Hanuman Temple on the banks of the Satar River. He lived there under the alias of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari for a long period, and started teaching kids of the nearby village Dhimarpura. In this way he managed to establish good rapport with the local residents. The village Dhimarpura was renamed as Azadpura by the Madhya Pradesh government.
While living in Jhansi, he also learnt to drive a car at Bundelkhand Motor Garage in Sadar Bazar of the cantonment area. Sadashivrao Malkapurkar, Vishwanath Vaishampayan and Bhagwan Das Mahaur came in close contact with him and became an integral part of his revolutionary group. The then congress leaders from Jhansi Pandit Raghunath Vinayak Dhulekar and Pandit Sitaram Bhaskar Bhagwat were also close to Azad. He also stayed for sometime in the house of Master Rudra Narayan Singh situated at Nai Basti and Pandit Sitaram Bhaskar Bhagwat's house in Nagra.
With Bhagat Singh
The HRA was formed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Yogesh Chandra Chatterji, Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Shachindra Nath Bakshi in 1924 just after two year of the Non co-operation movement. In the aftermath of the Kakori train robbery in 1925, the British clamped down on revolutionary activities. Prasad, Ashfaqulla Khan, Thakur Roshan Singh and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were sentenced to death for their participation. Chandra Shekhar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy and Murari Lal evaded capture. Chandra Shekhar Azad later reorganized the HRA with the help of revolutionaries like Sheo Verma and Mahaveer Singh. Azad was also a close associate of Bhagwati Charan Vohra who alongwith Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, helped him to transform the HRA into the HRSA in 1928 so as to achieve their primary aim of an independent India based on socialist principles
In the last week of Feb, 1931 Azad went to Sitapur Jail and met Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. He hoped that Vidyarthi would involve in the case of Bhagat Singh and others as he had previously done in the Kakori conspiracy case. Vidyarthi suggested him to go to Allahabad and meet Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. If he could be convinced, Nehru would be able to persuade Gandhi to talk to the Viceroy Lord Irwin and reach an agreement with the British Government in the forthcoming Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Azad met Pandit Nehru in the early morning of 27 February 1931 at his residence Anand Bhawan in Allahabad and held talks with him. Nehru was not convinced with Azad's arguements and asked Azad to leave his place. A furious Azad left immediately.
From Anand Bhawan he went to the Alfred Park on his bicycle. He sat under a tree of Jamun (in. Hindi) after propping his bicycle on the tree. He was discussing some confidential matters with a fellow party member, Sukhdev Raj when Deputy Superintendent of Police Bisheshwar Singh along with S.S.P. (C.I.D.) John Nott-Bower arrived there. Nott-Bower, pointed his finger towards Azad, to tell Bisheshwar Singh that this corpulent man was the person about whom he was informed just now by some reliable sources. Seeing a policeman pointing out his finger towards him, Azad immediately dragged out his Colt pistol from pocket and fired at Nott-Bower, hitting him in the right wrist. Seeing his senior officer soaked in blood, Bisheshwar Singh abused Azad. Azad immediately shot Bisheshwar Singh in his mouth, breaking his jaw. Within a few minutes, the police surrounded Alfred Park. During the initial encounter, Azad suffered a severe bullet wound in his right thigh, making it difficult for him to escape. But even than he made it possible for Sukhdev Raj to escape by providing him a cover fire. After Sukhdev Raj escaped, Azad managed to keep the police at bay for a long time.
Finally, with only one bullet left in his pistol and being completely surrounded and outnumbered, Chandra Shekhar Azad shot himself, keeping his pledge to never be captured alive. However, the British reported that he was killed in the police encounter by a troop lead by John Reginald Hornby Nott-Bower who was awarded with the King's Police Medal (KPM Award) in 1949. According to the reliable sources, a C.I.D. Inspector Ram Vadan Singh reported to Chowdhury Vishal Singh, the Officer-In-Charge of Colonelganj Police Station Allahabad that his S.S.P. alongwith one Dy.S.P. had been seriously injured from an attack by some Indian revolutionary. The police officers who came after the death of Azad did not approach his dead body for about half an hour. Only after a gun filled with buckshot was fired into his thigh, and no movement was noticed in the body, did the police touch his dead body. The file related to Azad is preserved in C.I.D. Headquarters, 1, Gokhale Marg, Lucknow. The Colt pistol of Chandra Shekhar Azad shown on the left hand side is displayed at the Azad Museum Allahabad. He once claimed that as his name was "Azad", he would never be taken alive by police. Allegedly, he was aware of the informer who betrayed him to the police.
Azad is an icon to the Indians today. Alfred Park, where he was killed in an encounter with the police, has been renamed Chandrashekhar Azad Park. Several schools, colleges, roads and other public institutions across India are also named after him. Starting from Manoj Kumar's 1965 film Shaheed , every film or commemoration of the life of Bhagat Singh has featured the character of Azad. Sunny Deol portrayed Azad in the movie 23rd March 1931: Shaheed. In the movie The Legend of Bhagat Singh, starring Ajay Devgn, Azad was portrayed by Akhilendra Mishra.
The lives of Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Ram Prasad and Ashfaqulla Khan were also depicted in the 2006 Aamir Khan film Rang De Basanti. The movie, which draws parallels between the lives of young revolutionaries such as Azad and Bhagat Singh and today's youth, also dwells upon the lack of appreciation among today's Indian youth for the sacrifices made by these heroes.
- Ram Prasad Bismil
- Indian Independence Movement
- Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
- Bhagat Singh
- Hindustan Socialist Republican Association
- Sukhdev Thapar
- Thakur Roshan Singh
- Ashfaqullah Khan
- Kakori Train Robbery
- Lala Lajpat Rai
- ^ http://unnao.nic.in/Personali.htm (CHANDRA SHEKHAR AZAD)
- ^ Khatri, Ram Krishna (1983). Shaheedon Ki Chhaya Mein. Nagpur India: Vishwabharati Prakashan. pp. 138–139.
- Biography 'Ajeya' (meaning "unconquered" in Kannada) by Babu Krishnamurthy.
- "KRANTI KI LAPTAIN" written by Dr. Chandramani Brahmdutt ISBN 8188167304.
- Dr.'Krant'M.L.Verma Swadhinta Sangram Ke Krantikari Sahitya Ka Itihas 2006 Delhi Praveen Prakashan ISBN 8177831224 (set).
- Ram Krishna Khatri Shaheedon Ki Chhaya Mein 1983 Nagpur Vishwa Bharati Prakashan
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