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Chandra Shekhar Azad

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Chandra Shekhar Azad

Chandra-Shekhar-Azad.jpgChandrashekhar Sitaram Tiwari known as Chandra Shekhar Azad or Panditji was one of the most important Indian revolutionaries. 

Founder of Garam Dal he was the first Indian to have used weapons against Britishers for Independence, and believed that fighting for others is a part of one’s Dharma (Duty).

 He was extremely ignited after the Jallaiwalla Bagh Massacre and protested along with Gandhiji as a part of Civil disobedience Movement for which he was imprisoned. 

During his trial when asked his name he replied “Azad” on which he was given fifteen slashes and with each slash he shouted “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

Following which he was titled as “Azad”.He committed himself to complete independence by any means and formed Hindustan Socialistic Republican Association. 

He advocated violent means against British and was a mentor for Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev.

He was involved in conceptualizing a number of activities like the famous Kakory Train Robbery, attempt to blow Viceroy’s Train, killing of John Poyantz Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. 

He was betrayed by one of his informers and got trapped under British Army but shot himself as he always wanted to die as a free man.

Chilhood 

Chandra Shekhar Azad was born on 23rd July 1906 in Saryuparin Brahmins family of Pandit Sitaram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi. He was born in Badarka village of Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. 

Chandra Shekhar Azad spent his childhood in the Bhabra village when his father was serving in the former estate of Alirajpur. 

He also learned archery from the tribal Bhils of erstwhile Jhabua district which helped him later on during the arms struggle against the Britishers.

Chandra Shekhar’s mother wanted to make her son a great Sanskrit scholar and so she persuaded his father to send him to Kashi Vidyapeeth in Banaras for studying Sanskrit. 

On December 1921, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the non cooperation movement, Chandra Shekhar, was then a 15 year old student who joined that movement. 

As a result, he was arrested presented before a magistrate. When the magistrate asked him his name he replied ‘Azad’ and from then on he assumed the title of ‘Azad’ and came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad. The magistrate at that time sentenced him to imprisonment for fifteen days with hard punishments.

Hindustan Socialist Republican Association

In the year 1924, the HRA was formed by,Yogesh Chandra Chatterji, Ram Prasad Bismil Shachindra Nath Bakshi and Sachindra Nath Sanyal just after two years of the non cooperation movement. After the Kakori train robbery in the year 1925, the British clamped down on revolutionary activities.

Ashfaqulla Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Thakur Roshan Singh were given death sentence for their participation in the activities. Chandra Shekhar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy and Murari Sharma however avoided the capture. 

Chandra Shekhar later reorganized the HRA with the help of revolutionaries like Sheo Verma and Mahaveer Singh. 

Azad was also a close partner of Bhagwati Charan Vohra who along with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru helped him to change the HRA into the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in the year 1928 in order to achieve the primary goal of an independent India based on socialist principles.

Death of Chandra Shekhar Azad

In the last week of February in the year 1931, Chandra Shekhar Azad went to Sitapur jail and met Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi with the hope that Vidyarthi would involve in the case of Bhagat Singh and others as he had previously done in the Kakori conspiracy case. 

However, Vidyarthi suggested him to go to Allahabad and meet Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and stated that if Nehru could be convinced, he would persuade Mahatma Gandhi to talk to the Viceroy Lord Irwin and settle an agreement with the British Government in the forthcoming Gandhi-Irwin pact. 

Chandra Shekhar Azad then met Jawaharlal Nehru on 27th February 1931. Jawaharlal Nehru though did not agree with him on some points, was moved by Azad’s patriotism and gave him money which was required for his work.

On the same day, Chandra Shekhar Azad went to Alfred Park and was discussing confidential matters with fellow party member Sukhdev Raj when Deputy Superintendent of police Bisheshwar Singh along with S.S.P. John Nott-Bower arrived there. 

This resulted in gunfight by Azad and the police where Azad shot both the SSO and the DSP. However, the police surrounded the park and Azad was hit on his right thigh making it difficult for him to escape. He however, made it possible for Sukhdev Raj to escape by providing him cover fire. 

He managed to keep the police at bay for a long time until finally he has only one bullet in his pistol and was surrounded by police. 

As he found himself outnumbered he shot himself keeping his pledge of never being captured alive. However, the police officers who came after his death did not approach his dead body for about half an hour. 

The police approached his dead body only after a gun filled with buckshot was fired in his thigh and no movement was noticed, they went forward to touch him.

Portrayals and Memorials

Chandra Shekhar Azad is an icon of present India. The Alfred Park, where he was killed has been renamed as Chandra Shekhar Azad Park. Several colleges, roads and public institutions across India are also named after him.

The Colt pistol of him which he had during his death is displayed in the Azad Museum in Allahabad. Chandra Shekhar Azad has been portrayed in many films. In the 1956 Manoj Kumar’s film ‘Shaheed’, every commemoration of the life of Bhagat Singh featured the character of Azad. 

He was also portrayed by Sunny Deol in the movie ‘23rd March 1931: Shaheed’ and by Akhilendra Mishra in the film ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ starring Ajay Devgan. 

The lived of Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and other revolutionary characters were also depicted in the 2006 film ‘Rang De Basanti’ with Aamir Khan portraying the character of Azad. This film draws parallels between the lives of young revolutionaries with today’s youth.

Explore more about glorious history of India.
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