Chandra Shekhar Azad was a great Indian freedom fighter with fierce patriotism and courage.
Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge, Azad hee rahein hain, azad hee rahenge` – Chandra Shekhar Azad addressed to inspire others of his generation to enter freedom struggle. The mentor of Bhagat Singh, another great freedom fighter, along with him produced one of the greatest revolutionaries against the British Government during the time of Pre – Independence of India.
Young Azad was one of the young generation of Indians when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Non – Cooperation Movement. Azad and others of his follower had committed themselves to absolute independence by any means. He was one among the most sought after revolutionaries by British police.
Chandra Shekhar Azad, a man of free spirit and indomitable courage, was born on July 23,1906 in village Bhavra in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh to Sitaram Tewari and Jagrani Devi. He was given the name Monikar Chandrasekhar Tiwari. After a court incident, he took the name `Azad`. His early schooling was in Bhavra.
After that for higher studies he went to the Sanskrit Pathashala at Varanasi. He was a dedicated follower of Hanuman and once disguised himself as a priest in a hanuman temple to mask himself from the British police.
Drawn into the national movement at a very young age he was apprehended by the police as a 15 year old student, during his participation in the Non-cooperation movement at Banaras ( Varanasi ). He was given severe flogging by the British Indian police.The young Chandra Sekhar was intensely disturbed by the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar in 1919.
After two years in 1921, when Mahatma Gandhi launched No-Cooperation movement, young Chandra Sekhar Azad actively participated in the revolutionary activities. He was caught while indulging in revolutionary activities. At the growing stage of his life in his fifteen he received his first punishment. In the court when he was asked to tell his name in front of magistrate, he said “Azad” which means `free`.
Chandrashekhar Azad was sentenced to fifteen lashes. With each stroke of the whip the young Chandrasekhar shouted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” means “Hail The Motherland!” and “Gandhi ki Jai” which means “Hail Gandhi!” From then on Chandrashekhar assumed the title of Azad and came to known as Chandrashekhar Azad.
Chandra Sekhar Azad was attracted towards more aggressive and revolutionary ideals after non – cooperation movement`s suspension. He was committed himself to complete independence by any means. He was the first to start the revolutionary struggle with arms against the oppressive Britishers.
Along with his compatriots started targetting the British Officials who mainly known for their oppressive actions agaist ordinary people and freedom fighters.
Chandrashekhar Azad was involved in Kakori Train Robbery ( 1926 )and the assassination of the assistant superintendent of police, John Poyantz Saunders, in 1928., the attempt to blow up the Viceroy`s train ( 1926 ), and the shooting of Saunders at Lahore ( 1928 ) to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpatrai.
Chandrashekhar Azad, often called, Pandit ji was the founder of Garam Dal. He was the guru for revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Rajguru.
Along with them he formed Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. The association was committed to complete Indian Independence and socialist principles for India`s future progress. Chandrashekhar Azad vowed that he would never be arrested by the British police and would die as free man.
As the non-cooperation movement was suspended But many were disillusioned with Gandhi`s suspension of the struggle in 1922 due to the Chauri Chaura massacre of 22 policemen. Chandrasekhar Azad did not feel that violence was unacceptable in the struggle, specially in view of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. The British Army killed hundreds of unarmed civilians and wounded thousands in Amritsar which deeply influenced the young Azad and his contemporaries.
In 1923 just after one year of the Non Cooperation movement, Sachindranath Sanyal formed `The Hindustan Republican Association`. The British became more strict on the revolutionary activities in the aftermath of the Kakori train robbery in 1925.
Ramprasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were sentenced to death for their participation in the robbery. Chandrasekhar Azad and Sunderlal Gupta had managed to escape from the place.
Azad reorganized the HRA with the help of secondary revolutionaries like Shiva Varma and Mahaveer Singh. He is also an associate of Rasabihariboss. Azad, along with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, transformed the HRA into the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association in 1927, whose goal was complete Indian independence based on socialist principles.
To Azad socialism should be the basis for India`s future. In his very brief life of only 25 years, Chandrashekhar Azad had made Jhansi his organisation`s hub for a considerable duration in 1931-32. He chose the forest of Orchha which is far 15 kilometers from Jhansi for practising shooting.
This brilliant shooter train other members of his group here. He established a small hut near the forests and the Lord Hanuman`s temple which was situated on the banks of a small river called Saataar. Establishing a good rapport with the local residents by teaching their kids, he started living there in the disguise of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari.
In Jhansi, he learnt how to drive a car at Bundelkhand Motor Garage in Sadar Bazaar, in cantonement area. In Jhansi, he met Sadashiv Rao Malkapurkar, Vishwanath Vaishampayan, Bhagwan Das Mahaur and they all became integral part of his revolutionary group.
Thenafter Pandit Raghunath Vinayak Dhulekar and Pandit Sitaram Bhaskar Bhagwat, who were congress leaders, also joined the group Jhansi was a safe place in Chandrashekhar Azad`s words.
He stayed in Master Rudranarayan Singh`s house at Nai Basti and Pandit Sitaram Bhaskar Bhagwat`s house in Nagra. As soon as he left Jhansi, he became a victim of betrayal from one of his former group members. The village Dhimarpura is now named after him and is known as Azadpura.
Moreover, Azad`s persona was not limited to just revolutionary heroics, there was a humanitarian, emotional and loving side as well, of which we know little. After the kakori-train conspiracy Azad was looking for refuge as police was after him.
To evade the police Azad took refuge at the home of an old widow. Late In the night, the old lady told Azad about her monitory incapability to marry off her daughter. Feeling the plight of helpless widow, Azad asked her to bring him to the police and get the prize-money of Rs 5,000 that Azad carried on his head.
Poor widow despite an offer refused to do so and said “I wouldn`t do it for Rs 5 lakh”. Azad had to leave her home early in morning, but he did not forget to leave good sum of money for the marriage, he also left a letter in which he wrote: “Forgive me for leaving without informing you. You did not agree to my proposal.
But now I will decide what is to be done. Please arrange the marriage of my sister as soon as possible with the money I am leaving. I wish I could be present for the occasion. But who knows where I will be. But Amma, what more can a brother on the run do for his sister? If my luck permits I`ll meet my brother – in – law one day and bless my sister in person.”
He vowed that he would never fall in the hands of British, preferring valiant death against vegetative life. He in fact lived a free-life, never being captured by the British. Chandrashekhar Azad was a terror for British police. He was on their hit list and the British police badly wanted to capture him dead or alive.
When all efforts failed to arrest Azad, the police announced a reward of Rs. 30,000. It was a well-planned trick to announce the huge amount considering the time. And, the plan paid off. One of his own colleague betrayed Azad. On February 27, 1931 Chandrashekhar Azad met two of his comrades at the Alfred Park, Allah bad.
The police surrounded the park and ordered Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender. Chandrashekhar Azad fought alone dauntlessly and killed three policemen. Very unfortunately he found himself surrounded and no route was open for escape, Chandrashekhar Azad shot himself.
Unfortunately, the man who was ready to give his life for the prize money for the sake of a poor old widow had to die for the money awarded on his head. Thus he kept his solemn promise of not being caught alive.
Today Chandrasekhar Azad is a hero to many Indians. Alfred Park was renamed “Chandrasekhar Azad Park”, as have been scores of schools, colleges, roads and other public institutions across India. Ever since Manoj Kumar`s film, “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”, in 1964, Azad`s character has become central to any film or commemoration of the life of Bhagat Singh.
He was played by Sunny Deol in 2002, in the movie 23rd March 1931: Shaheed. In the movie “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”, starring Ajay Devgan, Azad ( played by Akhilendra Mishra ) had a prominent role and was shown to kill himself rather than dying by the hands of foreigners.
The patriotism of Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Bismil and Ashfaqulla Khan was also depicted in Rang De Basanti, a contemporary Bollywood film starring Aamir Khan that released in February 2006.
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 Indian youth today for the sacrifices made by these men.