Birthday: July 23, 1906
Died At Age: 24
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Azad, Chandrasekar Azad
Born in: Bhavra
Famous as: Revolutionary
father: Sitaram Tiwari
mother: Jagrani Devi
Died on: February 27, 1931
place of death: Allahabad
Cause of Death: Suicide
education: Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith
Chandra Shekhar Azad was an Indian revolutionary considered to be the chief strategist of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Born during the British colonial rule in India, he grew up to be a patriotic young man with revolutionary ideas. An independent minded individual from a young age, he became involved in the Indian nationalist movement early on. He was just 15 when he was first apprehended by the police for his participation in Mohandas K. Gandhi’s noncooperation movement and given a severe flogging. With time his resolve to fight for his country’s independence grew manifold and he joined the radical Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). He participated in several violent protests against the British Raj and served as an inspiration and mentor to budding revolutionary Bhagat Singh. Following the deaths of Ram Prasad Bismil, the founder of HRA and three other prominent party leaders, Roshan Singh, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Ashfaqulla Khan, Azad reorganized the HRA under the new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Due to his revolutionary activities he was a much wanted man in the eyes of the British police; but Azad was able to evade arrest for many years. He was determined never to be captured alive and shot himself when he found himself on the verge of being arrested after being betrayed by a comrade.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Chandra Shekhar Tiwari on 23 July 1906 in Bhavra village, in the present-day Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. His parents were Sitaram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi.
As a young boy he learned archery from the tribal Bhils of erstwhile Jhabua, a skill that would help him greatly during the armed struggle against the British. His mother aspired for him to become a great Sanskrit scholar and thus he was sent to Kashi Vidyapeeth, Banaras, to study.
He was very passionate about India’s freedom struggle from a young age. The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 in which the British army killed hundreds of unarmed civilians and wounded thousands in Amritsar angered the teenage boy and he was convinced that it was perfectly fine to resort to violence against the British.
He was a 15 year old student when Mohandas K. Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921. He joined the movement and was arrested for his participation. When asked for his personal details by the British officers, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Liberated), his father's name as "Swatantrata" (Independence) and his residence as "Jail". From that day onwards he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad.
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The Non-Cooperation Movement was suspended in 1922. This greatly agitated Azad who took to more aggressive means of protests after this. He believed that India’s future lay in socialism and devoted himself completely to the independence movement.
He became acquainted with Ram Prasad Bismil who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organization. Impressed by the organization’s ideals he joined HRA and became an active member.
In collaboration with other like-minded revolutionaries, he executed several violent acts against the British, including the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925 and the attempt to blow up the Viceroy's train in 1926.
Azad was also acquainted with a young revolutionary named Bhagat Singh who shared several of his values and beliefs regarding the freedom struggle. In collaboration with Singh and others, Azad participated in the shooting of J.P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, one of the leaders of the Indian independence movement.
Azad, who was skilled in archery, made Jhansi the hub for his activities for some time. In a forest near Jhansi he trained other members of his group in shooting practice. Living under the alias of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari, he was able to establish a good rapport with the local villagers.
He helped to strengthen his group of revolutionaries by recruiting fellow patriots like Sadashivrao Malkapurkar, Vishwanath Vaishampayan and Bhagwan Das Mahaur. He also maintained close contacts with Congress leaders such as Raghunath Vinayak Dhulekar and Sitaram Bhaskar Bhagwat.
In 1928, Azad and some of his associates including Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru reorganized the HRA into Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) following the death of Ram Prasad Bismil. The major aim of the HSRA was to achieve the dream of an independent India based on socialist principle.
He met Jawaharlal Nehru in early 1931 to discuss about the terms of the forthcoming Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Nehru did not agree with Azad on certain points though he gave him some financial assistance for his work.
Chandra Shekhar Azad was a popular revolutionary patriot best known for reorganizing the Hindustan Republican Association under the new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and for training and mentoring other revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. Azad was the chief strategist of the HSRA which declined following his death in 1931.
Death & Legacy
On 27 February 1931 he was at Alfred Park in Allahabad with his revolutionary friend Sukhdev Raj. Suddenly police surrounded him from all sides and a gun battle ensued. Azad killed three policemen but was badly wounded in the process of defending himself and Sukhdev.
In spite of his grievous injuries he helped Sukhdev escape. When he realized that he had only one bullet left in his gun and was not in a position to escape, he shot himself dead, holding true to his pledge to never to be captured alive. Already a popular revolutionary figure, he was elevated to the status of a martyr upon his death.
Alfred Park where he died was renamed Chandra Shekhar Azad Park in his honor. Many schools, colleges, and other institutions across India are also named after him.
Chandra Shekhar Azad has also been depicted in several Indian movies including ‘Shaheed’, ‘23rd March 1931: Shaheed’, and ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’.