Smt. Jagrani Devi, mother of Chandrashekar wanted him to be a Sanskrit Scholar. She wanted him to study Sanskrit at Banaras Hindu University, but he was destined to become a hero of the nation and made his mother prouder than she had anticipated. At the tender age of 15 years, he joined the Freedom Movement. He proclaimed himself as ‘Azad’ and added the word to his name, and lived up to it in its true sense. That is how Chandrashekar turned to Chandrashekar Azad and sacrificed his life for the country. Chandrashekar was born on 23rd July 1906 in Bhabara of Madhya Pradesh and spent most of his childhood in this place. He learned archery from the tribal people. He went to Varanasi to pursue his education.
The birth of a Revolutionary
During this time, Mahatma Gandhi launches his non-cooperation movement, which is a major event of the freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi called the Indians to resist Britishers in all possible ways. Chandrashekar was highly influenced by this and joined the movement at the tender age of 15 years. This movement turned into violent encounters between British Police and Indian Protesters, which resulted in much suffering to innocent civilians. Owing to this, Mahatma Gandhi withdrew from the non – cooperation movement in February 1920. This instigated Chandrashekar to take his own ways of fighting for the nation.
Joining of Hindustan Republican Association
He had trust in Socialism and at this juncture, he was introduced to Ram Prasad Bismil, who has formed the Hindustan Republic Association. Chandrashekar was much impressed by the aims of this organization, as they also had revolutionary ideas. Ram Prasad Bismil was also impressed by Chandrashekar as he had strong determinations. Both joined hands to make HRA Stronger.
The aim of HRA was to liberate India from the clutches of Britishers. To achieve this HRA needed funds. To raise funds the activist robbed the Government offices for funds. Unlike Mahatma Gandhi, Chandrashekar took to violence to achieve independence. The Kakori Train Robbery of 1925 is an example for this. On 9th August 1925, the HRA activists headed by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqulla Khan made plans to loot the train carrying Government Money. Accordingly, they the No. 8 down train running from Saharanpur to Lucknow was stopped by the activists by pulling the chain. They looted only the money that belonged to the British Government, and none of the Indian Passenger’s belongings were taken. This shook the confidence of the British Government and gave a dramatic turn to their thinking. The revolutionary nature of Chandrashekar resulted in attempting to blow the Viceroy’s train in 1926. Chandrashekar planned the shootout of J.P. Saunders, as he was enraged when Lala Lajpat Rai was killed. The killing was executed by Bhagat Singh and Raj Guru, who was given the cover by Chandrashekar Azad to escape. He had aims in his mind and believed in them and pursued them till the end.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 in which British Police killed thousands of innocent civilians who were clueless, disturbed Chandrashekar Azad. He embraced more violent ideas and determined violence was inevitable. Owing to all this Chandrashekar Azad was declared as a terrorist by the Britishers.
Shift to Jhansi
Chandrashekar Azad shifted to Jhansi and started living under the guise of a Pandit. He honed his shooting skills in the nearby forests. The Kakori Train Robbery instigated the Britishers to come down heavily on revolutionary activities. Four persons were awarded death sentence for their participation in Robbery. Chandrashekar escaped from being captured and started reorganizing HRA. He was supported by Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and many others in transforming HRA to Hindustan Socialist Republic Association (HSRA) with an intention to make India Free based on the principles of Socialism in 1928.
Later Chandrashekar went to meet Jawaharlal Nehru for motivating him to convince Mahatma Gandhi about Irwin-Gandhi Pact. He met Nehru on the morning of February 27th, 1931 and asked for help from Nehru to stop capital punishment to freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. There were some disagreements and Chandrashekar went to Alfred Park to have a discussion with the HSRA Members.
As in case of most of the freedom fighters, betrayal by the trusted cost his life. An informer gave the information of Chandrashekar’s presence in the park and police surrounded the place. Chandrashekar Azad fought with the police, killed three policemen and injured many. Though he was himself injured, provided cover for his friend Sukhdev Raj to escape. When he realized that the police are overpowering and with only one bullet left in his pistol, he shot himself. Thus he lived up to his name ‘Azad’ and was free till he died. India lost a great hero. A great revolutionary who lived for a cause, died for the country making his claim true. He lived and died ‘Azad’
Salutations to Azad
Azad is worshipped even today by all patriots and he is a youth icon. Alfred Park was named after him as ‘Chandrashekar Azad’ Park. Schools and colleges are named after him, patriots named children after him. The Khanpur Agricultural university is named after him. He lives in the heart of many Indians even now and will continue to inspire the youth about how to love their motherland.