“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”. PM Modi

Born in Allahabad, I have a special place in my heart for Chandra Sekhar Azad. Just opposite my school, St. Joseph’s High School, is Company Bagh, in the outskirts of which he shot himself to death in February 1931, after he was ambushed. It was said that he was waiting for a secret and a crucial meeting with a colleague Virbhadra Tiwari, who turned traitor and informant.

I was born in December 1950, 29 years after he died. I moved to Delhi in 1984.

Whenever we had relatives visiting us, I would religiously take them to the place where he died and relate the whole incidence. I left Allahabad in 1984, till then the whole place was intact in its original form. I would show them the tree where he shot himself. I would take them around the moat which surrounded the area and explain how the whole battalion of armed force silently and secretly using the moat approached Azad, shooting bullets from their rifles, nonstop. Even then they could not kill him. Hundreds of bullets were fired. Azad retaliated with his gun and shot himself, when he was left with only one bullet. Even after Azad killed himself, the battalion was scared to go near him. They did so surrounding him with rifles loaded and with bayonets pointed at him.

I would describe the whole event as though I had witnessed it, with tears in my eyes and goosebumps.

Born as, Chandrasekhar Tiwari in the village Bhabhra, Madhya Pradesh on July 23, 1906, he went to Kashi Vidyapeeth, Banaras to study Sanskrit.
When Gandhiji launched the Non-Cooperation Movement in December 1921, Chandra Shekhar Azad, who was then 15 and still studying, joined the movement.

Chandra Shekhar Azad was arrested for joining Gandhiji’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.
After Gandhiji 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.

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.

As a freedom fighter, Azad was also involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’s train in 1926.

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.

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.

I would like my children and grandchildren to bow their heads with respect whenever they hear the name of this great Hero of India, who at the raw stage of 15 jumped into the freedom struggle. Heroes like him were instrumental in getting India’s independence.

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