“If yet your blood doesn’t rage then it is water that flows in your veins. For what is the flush of youth, if it is not of service to motherland”—Chandra Shekar Azad
Indian Freedom Struggle is as diversified as its culture. Though the First War of Independence dates back to 1857, India got liberated only on August 15th, 1947. A 90-year saga of Indian Freedom struggle is as vernacular as its people and is as diversified as its geography.
Non-Violence movement to Revolutionary struggles, a gamut of struggle can be witnessed in our Freedom Movement. Peasants, Armed officers in British Raj and School-College children all have been part of India’s freedom movement.
A prominent icon of youth who kept the flame of Indian Freedom struggle alive within youngsters of the nation is Chandra Shekar Azad. Who through his inspirational acts mobilized a revolutionary movement in India and became a martyr for the same without losing ‘AZAADI’ (Freedom) throughout his life. Chandra Shekar Azad sacrificed his life for the Nation’s cause at a tender age of 23. It is scintillating to know his biography.
Chandra Shekar Azad was born on July 23, 1906, at Bhavra village in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh in a Hindu Brahmin Family. His parents were Mr. Pandit Sita Ram Tiwari and Mrs.Jagrani Devi. By birth, he was christened as Chandra Shekar Tiwari. Later on, his determination of not surrendering to British rulers under any circumstances earned him the name ‘Azad.’ (Meaning ‘Liberate’ or ‘Free’ in Hindi).
He grew up in a community called ‘Bhils’ (inhabitants of Madhya Pradesh) and learned Archery, Wrestling, and Swimming. These childhood days training honed Azad’s shooting skills. He received early schooling at Bhavra but relocated to Varanasi Sanskrit Pathshala for higher studies. It is at Varanasi Chandra Shekar Azad got acquaintance with young nationalist friends.
Ignition to Embrace Freedom Fighter Role
The Jallianwallah Bagh massacre in 1919, which killed unarmed Indian Citizens created a strong anti-British Raj sentiments throughout the Nation. Many youths jumped into the Non-cooperation movement (1920-21) started by Mahatma Gandhi to aggressively counter British administration. Chandra Shekar Azad was then only 16 years old and recognized himself in this movement to drive away British from India. During the agitation, he was arrested and questioned by British police where he claimed himself as ‘Free’ and his parents as ‘Swatantra’ and ‘Prison’ as his house address. This arrogant behavior attracted 15 whiplashes from police, and he accepted it without any deter. From then on Chandra Shekar Tiwari was rechristened as ‘Azad.’
Deviation from Gandhian Philosophy
Though Azad began his freedom movement along with Gandhiji, Gandhiji withdrawing Non-cooperative movement against British rule did not go well for him. He believed in a strong constant aggressive attack on British administration. Thus, nurtured Revolutionary instinct imbibed within him. Fortunately, he found like-minded youths working for Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and met its founder Ram Prasad Bismil which gave impetus to Azad’s plans to destroy British forces in India.
Kakori – Train Robbery Conspiracy – 1925
The most important act of Azad and HRA was successful execution of train robbery to loot money from British treasury for funding their arm and ammunition mission. Ram Prasad Bismil laid out a master plan and team members Ashfaqulla Khan, Thakur Roshan Singh, Rajendranath Lahiri and others executed the plan by attacking down train No. 8 traveling from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow by stopping it at Kakori (a place in Uttar Pradesh). They ambushed a police officer carrying the money trunks, and in the exchange of fire, a passenger was killed. Azad’s team successfully robbed 8000 rupees and were fixed in a murder case. By exhaustive manhunt, Ram Prasad, Ashfaqulla Khan, Thakur Roshan Singh, Rajendranath Lahiri were captured and sentenced to death while Azad evaded from British force and reorganized HRA with the help of revolutionaries like Sheo Verma and Mahaveer Singh.
Lahore Conspiracy & New Friends – 1928
Azad traveled exhaustively and reached Kanpur, which was the Head Quarters of HRA. Here he met new revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru trio. The Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was renamed as Hindustan Socialist Republic Association.
It is on October 30, 1928, LalaLajpat Rai led a peaceful protest against the Simon Commission in Lahore and police officer James Scott brutally attacked peaceful protestors. LalaLajpat Rai was severely injured and succumbed to death on November 17, 1928. This enraged the firebrand trio of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. They took an oath to finish off James Scott. Chandra Shekar Azad who was well versed in shooting laid out a plan to murder Scott. Though the team executed the plan successfully, due to mistaken identity, instead of Scott an officer called Saunders was killed. Police issued an arrest warrant and started comb operation for the revolutionary trio and Azad. While Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were arrested and sentenced to death, Azad evaded from police.
True to his name Azad remained elusive for police to crack down. They announced a huge sum of cash price to his informers. As a result, British police got information about Azad meeting his friends at Alfred Park, Allahabad. Police surrendered the park from all directions. A fierce battle was encountered. Azad known for his sharp shooting skills attacked the British forces singlehandedly. The armed forces were huge in number and started bombarding from all directions, warning Azad to surrender. Azad was reluctant to do so. He was severely injured in legs. He also ran out of bullets, but his determination to remain ‘Azad’ (Free) from British forever made him shoot himself with last bullet available at his disposal.
Interesting Facts about Azad
- He was nicknamed as ‘Quick Silver’ for always bubbling with activity
- Azad trained Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru in covert activities
- Interesting point is Motilal Nehru supporter of Congress party used to fund Azad’s revolutionary activities
- He used to maintain precise and accurate statistics of HRA expenses and funds
- Many schools, colleges, and streets are named after him across India
- According to him Socialism was best for future India, and he believed in providing equality to economically and socially oppressed people
- Throughout his life, Azad was a staunch believer in bringing in equality among oppressed classes and was a socialist.
His favorite quotes are:
- “Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge, Azad hi rahein hain, azad hi rahenge!” ( We are ready to face bullets of enemy, we were independent and will remain independent)
- “Don’t see others doing better than you, Beat your records every day because success is a fight between you and ”
- “A plane is always safe on the ground, But it is not meant for that, Always take some meaningful risks in life to achieve great ”