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By Nithin Sridhar

When Mahatma Gandhi gave the call for non-cooperation in 1921, the whole country responded. The students boycotted the schools and the advocates and government employees boycotted their work. The foreign goods were boycotted and sometimes thrown into the fire. People took out processions and made demonstrations against the British India government.

During one such occasion in Benares, the police lathi-charged on the agitators. A 15-year-old boy who saw a sub-inspector hitting people mercilessly, picked up a stone that was lying nearby and threw it at the officer. The stone hit the sub-inspector on the forehead and he fell down.

The police caught hold of the boy, and next day, they produced him in front of the magistrate.
The magistrate asked the boy:“What is your name?”
Azad (Freedom)” replied the boy.
The magistrate was annoyed. He asked: “What is your father’s name?”
Swatantra (Independent)” replied the boy.
“What is your mother’s name?”
Dharti ma (Mother Earth)”
“Where is your home?”
“In Jail”.

The magistrate was angry. He ordered the 15-year-old boy to be punished with 15 lashes by the cane. After this incident, the boy took on the name “Azad” and went on to become a nightmare for the British rule.

Today is the 109th birth anniversary of Chandrashekhar Azad, who along with Bhagat Singh and others, led the revolutionary movement against the British rule.

On 23 July 1906, Azad was born as Chandrashekhar Tiwari in Bhavra village of Madhya Pradesh. His parents were Jagrani Devi and Sitaram Tiwari. Azad had his early schooling in Bhavra itself but came to Benares to study Sanskrit and become a scholar.

Azad was deeply affected by the massacre carried out in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. Therefore, when Gandhi gave a call for non-cooperation, Azad immediately plunged into it and even got arrested. He was barely a teenager at that time.

Azad was disappointed when the movement was called off and he moved towards revolutionary ideas by which Indians could get rid of British. He joined Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) of Ram Prasad Bismil which aimed at complete independence of India.

Later, Azad joined hands with Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev and Rajguru to form Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

Azad proved to be a nightmare for British officials in India. He was instrumental in organizing and carrying out numerous activities aimed at disrupting British rule in India, the most famous being Kakori Train Robbery ( in 1926) and Saunders assassination (in 1928). The latter was carried out in order to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.

When the British clamped down on the activities of the revolutionaries, many including Bhagat Singh were arrested and sentenced to death. But Azad evaded capture.

Finally, on 27 February 1931, when Azad was meeting his friends in Alfred Park, Allahabad, he was betrayed by one of them who informed the British police. The police surrounded the park and asked Azad to surrender. But, Azad refused to surrender and fought bravely. Azad killed three policemen, but he ran out of his ammunitions.

When only one bullet was left with Azad, he shot himself. He was Azad when he was alive and he remained Azad even in his death.


Photo by Flickr.

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