Chandra Shekhar Azad
- A courageous freedom fighter and a fearless revolutionary, born on 23 July 1906 in Bhavra, Madya Pradesh.
His famous proclamation, ‘Dushmano Ki Goliyon Ka Saamna Hum Karenge, /Azad Hi Rahe Hain, aur Azad hi Rahenge’, which translates into ‘I will face the bullets of the enemies, I have been free and I’ll forever be free’, is exemplary of his brand of revolution. He embraced martyrdom like an old friend and inspired a fierce sense of nationalism in the hearts of his contemporaries.
- In December 1921, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Chandra Shekhar, then a 15-year-old student, joined. As a result, he was arrested. On being presented before a magistrate, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Free), his father’s name as “Swatantrata” (Independence) and his residence as “Jail”. From that day he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad among the people.
- Azad become more aggressive after the suspension of Non-Coperation movement. He met a young revolutionary, Manmath Nath Gupta, who introduced him to Ram Prasad Bismil who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation.
- He becomes an active member in Hindusthan Revolutionary Association (HRA) and started to collect fund for HRA. Most of his fund collection was through robberies, of government property. He was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’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.
- He along with other revolutionaries formed ‘The Hindustan Socialist Republican Association’. He was a mentor to many revolutionaries including Bhagat Singh. He wanted complete independence for India by any means.
- On October 30, 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a peaceful protest against the Simon Commission at Lahore. Police Superintendent James Scott ordered lathi strike to thwart the advancement of the march.
- Lalaji was deeply wounded in this incident and died on 17th November 1928. Together with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, he plotted the assassination of Scott. On December 17, 1928, the plan was executed but a case of mistaken identity led to the killing of John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
- Azad along with 29 others were charged in the Lahore Conspiracy Case Trial, but he was among the few who the British authorities were unable to capture.
- The British so furious and even announced Ruppese 30,000 for the head of Azad. The huge amount of money led to vital information on the whereabouts of Azad. On February 27, 1931, Chandrashekhar Azad was meeting with friends at Alfred Park, Allahabad. A pre-informed police surrounded the park and asked Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender.
- Azad in the fight killed three policemen and helped his friends to escape safely.
- After having no ammunition and foreseeing no means to escape, Azad shot himself in the head with the last bullet. He upheld his vow, never to get killed in the hands of British.
- After independence, to commemorate the bravery of Chandrashekhar Azad, Alfred Park in Allahabad was renamed Chandrashekhar Azad Park.
Multiple patriotic films have depicted Azad’s character. In the 2002 Ajay Devgan starrer biopic of Bhagat Singh, Azad’s character was portrayed by Akhilendra Mishra. The patriotism of Azad, Rajguru, Pandit Ram Prasad Basil and Ashfaqula Khan was depicted in Rang De Basanti, a 2006 Bollywood film where Amir Khan portrayed the character of Chandra Shekhar Azad.