India had a good number of freedom fighters who fought to secure the country’s independence from British rule, and among the well known personalities was Chandra Shekhar Azad. Today, July 23, marks the birth anniversary of the fearless man who chose to make the supreme sacrifice by taking his own life to escape imprisonment and torture at the hands of the British. Also Read - PM Modi Remembers Chandra Shekhar, Talks About PMs Museum
Chandra Shekhar Azad was born on July 23, 1906 in Bhabhra village in the present-day Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. His mother, Jagrani Devi, wanted him to be a great Sanskrit scholar so he was sent to Kashi Vidyapeeth, Banaras to study. As a freedom fighter, 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 in the shooting of British police officer JP Saunders at Lahore in 1928. Also Read - Chandra Shekhar Azad's passion for freedom inspired youth: PM Modi
A few facts about him are as follows:
1. He was born Chandrashekhar Tiwari but changed his name to Chandra Shekhar Azad, with ‘Azad’ standing for ‘The Free’. He would also use the name ‘Balraj’ when signing statements as the commander in chief of the HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republic Army).
2. When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement in December 1921, Chandra Shekhar Azad, who was then 15 and still studying, joined the movement.
3. Chandra Shekhar Azad was arrested for joining Gandhi’s movement and as punishment was lashed with a whip. It is said that when he was brought before the magistrate, he gave his name as Azad (The Free), his father’s name as Swatantrata (Independence), and place of residence as Jail.
4. After Gandhi suspended the non-cooperation movement in 1922, Chandra Shekhar Azad joined the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation formed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Sachindra Nath Sanyal and others.
5. Chandra Shekhar Azad took charge of HRA after Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Thankur Roshan Singh were sentenced to death in the Kakori train robbery case.
6. After the capture of the main leaders of the HRA, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh secretly reorganised the HRA as the HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republic Army) in September 1928.
7. When Lala Lajpat Rai died in 1928 due to the grievous injuries he suffered at the hands of superintendent of police James A Scott, members of the HSRA vowed to avenge his death. But due to a case of mistaken identity, Assistant Superintendent of Police John P Saunders was killed.
8. Chandra Shekhar Azad’s death came about when Virbhadra Tiwari, an old companion who later turned traitor, informed the police of his whereabouts. In the gun fight with the police at what was then known as Alfred Park, Azad was injured as he tried to defend himself.
9. Left with no other way out, 24-year-old Chandra Shekhar Azad shot himself dead to evade being captured by the police, and his body was sent to Rasulabad Ghat for cremation without informing the general public.
10. The park in Allahabad where Chandra Shekhar Azad died on February 27, 1931 has been renamed as Chandrashekhar Azad Park, and the Colt pistol that he used is displayed at the Allahabad Museum.