Chandra Shekhar Azad first name also commonly spelt Chandrashekhar and Chandrasekhar; 23 July 1906 – 27 February 1931), popularly known as Azad was an Indian revolutionary who reorganised the Hindustan Republican Association under the new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) after the death of its founder, Ram Prasad Bismil, and three other prominent party leaders, Roshan Singh, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Ashfaqulla Khan. He is considered to be the mentor of Bhagat Singh and chief strategist of the HSRA.
Azad was born as Chandra Shekhar Tiwari on 23 July 1906 in a Hindu Brahmin family in Bhavra village, in the present-day Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. His forefathers were from Badarka village near Kanpur (in present-day Unnao District). His mother, Jagrani Devi, was the third wife of Sitaram Tiwari, whose previous wives had died young. After the birth of their first son, Sukhdev, in Badarka, the family moved to Alirajpur State.
After suspension of the non-cooperation movement in 1922 by Gandhi, Azad became more aggressive. He committed himself to achieving complete independence by any means. Azad also believed that India’s future lay in socialism. He met a young revolutionary, Pranvesh Chatterji, who introduced him to Ram Prasad Bismil who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation.
Activities in Jhansi
Azad made Jhansi his organisation’s hub for some time. He used the forest of Orchha, situated 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Jhansi, as a site for shooting practice and, being an expert marksman, he trained other members of his group. Near the forest he built a hut near to a Hanuman Temple on the banks of the Satar River. He lived there under the alias of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari for a long period, and started teaching children from the nearby village of Dhimarpura. In this way he managed to establish good rapport with the local residents. The village Dhimarpura was renamed as Azadpura by the Madhya Pradesh government.
With Bhagat Singh
The Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was formed by Bismil, Chatterji, Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Shachindra Nath Bakshi in 1924. In the aftermath of the Kakori train robbery in 1925, the British clamped down on revolutionary activities. Prasad, Ashfaqulla Khan, Thakur Roshan Singh and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were sentenced to death for their participation. Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy and Murari Sharma evaded capture. Chandra Shekhar Azad later reorganized the HRA with the help of revolutionaries like Sheo Verma and Mahaveer Singh. Azad was also a close associate of Bhagwati Charan Vohra who along with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, helped him to transform the HRA into the HSRA in 1928 so as to achieve their primary aim of an independent India based on socialist principle.
Azad died at Alfred Park in Allahabad on 27 February 1931.The police surround him in the park citing information from an informer. He was wounded in the process of defending himself and Sukhdev Raj and killed three policemen and wounded some others. His actions made it possible for Sukhdev Raj to escape. After a long shootout, holding true to his pledge to never be captured alive, he shot himself dead with his last bullet.The file related to Azad is preserved in C.I.D. Headquarters, 1, Gokhale Marg, Lucknow. The Colt pistol of Chandra Shekhar Azad is displayed at the Allahabad Museum.
Alfred Park, where he became “Shaheed”, has been renamed Chandrashekhar Azad Park. Several schools, colleges, roads and other public institutions across India are also named after him.