The legendary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad was the leading face of the young Indian brigade that protested against the British Raj after the devastating Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Born to Pandit Sitaram Tiwari and his third wife Jagrani Devi on July 23, 1906, Chandra Shekhar was sent to Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi for higher studying because his mother wanted him to become a Sanskrit scholar. During his college days, Chandrashekhar became aware of the freedom struggle and the turmoil through which India was going at that time.
Joined Non-Cooperation Movement By Mahatma Gandhi
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 left a deep impact on the mind of 15-YO Chandrashekhar. Moved by the entire incidence he joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. He was arrested once during these protests and was taken in front of the district magistrate. When his name was asked, Chandrashekhar said, “My name is Azad (Free). My father is Swatantra(Independence). And the jail is my home.”
These answers angered the magistrate who announced punishment of 15 lashings to Chandrashekhar. Instead of getting afraid of it, the brave teenager showed the resolve of steel and bore the punishment enthusiastically. From then on the word “Azad” stuck with him and he was called Chandrashekhar Azad ever since then.
Azad Joins HRA, Meets Ram Prasad Bismil
In 1922 the non- cooperation movement was suspended. It disheartened Chandrashekhar who slowly started getting influenced by more aggressive and revolutionary ideas. His thought process received a right response when he became an active member of HRA and met its founder Ram Prasad Bismil.
Azad was restless, agile, ever-enthusiastic who always had new ideas. That is why Bismil nicknamed him Quick Silver. Chandrashekhar was also a master of disguises and could smartly conduct recon operations to find out crucial details. During one of his missions while working in Jhansi for a few months he lived as Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari on the banks of the River Satar and taught local children.
No wonder with all these qualities, Azad soon started playing the lead role in most of the dangerous missions that also included the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925 as well as the assassination of John Saunders, the assistant police superintendent. The plan to kill Saunders was a part of the mission to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Roy.
Bhagat Singh, Rajguru & Sukhdev Join HRA
The police scanned all the nearby territories but could not catch the slipper revolutionary. HRA was later on transformed into Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and became more strong and determined after the joining of revolutionaries like Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar, and Bhagat Singh.
During a trap set by the police to capture Sukhdev and Azad, both the friends took refuge behind a tree and opened fire instead of surrendering. More than three dozen rifles fought against two pistols.
Azad and his friend killed two policemen and injured several others. But Chandrashekhar too was shot in the right thigh. Knowing that he cannot escape Azad gave cover to Sukhdev and helped him escape. He continued to fire as long as he could and true to his vow of remaining independent shot himself at the young age of 24.
“Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge, Azad hee rahein hain, Azad hee rahenge.” (Will face the foe’s bullets, but I am free and I shall remain free.) – Chandra Shekhar Azad.
The park where he sacrificed his life is now called Chandrashekhar Azad Park. The statue of Azad, bare-chested, muscular and twirling his mustache installed near the tree where he died is an inspiration to every Indian.