Chandra Shekhar Azad (1906-1931)

Chandra Shekhar was born on 23 July 1906 in village Bhavra in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh to Pandit Sita Ram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi. He received his early schooling in Bhavra. For higher studies he went to the Sanskrit Pathashala at Varanasi.

Young Chandra Shekhar was fascinated by and drawn to the great national upsurge of the non-violent, non-cooperation movement of 1920-21 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. When arrested and produced before the magistrate, he gave his name as 'Azad', his father's name as 'Swatantra' and his residence as 'prison'. The provoked magistrate sentenced him to fifteen lashes of flogging. The title of Azad stuck thereafter.

After withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement, Azad was attracted towards revolutionary activities. He joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA) and was involved in the Kakori Conspiracy (1926), the attempt to blow up the Viceroy's train (1926), the Assembly bomb incident, the Delhi Conspiracy, the shooting of Saunders at Lahore (1928) and the Second Lahore conspiracy.

Azad was on the wanted list of the police. On 27February 1931, in the Alfred Park, Allahabad, when an associate betrayed him, well-armed police circled Azad. For quite sometime he held them at bay, single-handedly with a small pistol and few cartridges. Left with only one bullet, he fired it at his own temple and lived up to his resolve that he would never be arrested and dragged to gallows to be hanged. He used to fondly recite a Hindustani couplet, his only poetic composition:

 

'Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge,

Azad hee rahein hain, azad hee rahenge'