Biography: Chandra Shekhar Azad, the master of disguises
Born on July 23, 1906, as Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, this India revolutionary became popularly known as Azad, the free. Born to Pandit Sita Ram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi in Bhavra village in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, Azad is known for his role in the Kakori Train Robbery.
Chandra Shekhar grew up learning wrestling, swimming and archery. An ardent follower of Lord Hanuman, Azad was a revolutionary from a young age. The firebrand freedom fighter studied in Kashi Vidyapeeth, Banaras since his mother wanted him to be a Sanskrit scholar. A barely 15-year-old Chandra Shekhar joined the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. He was arrested for taking part in the movesement.
When he was taken to court, he told the judge that his name was 'Azad'. He gave his father's name as 'Swatantrata' and his residence as 'Jail'. From then on Chandra Shekhar came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad.
He became more aggressive after the suspension of the Non-cooperation movement in 1922. Azad was a contemporary of Bhagat Singh and reorganised the Hindustan Republican Association and gave it a new name, Hindustan Azad Socialist Republican Association.
A master of disguises, Azad evaded arrest by the British many times. "Dushmano Ki Goliyon Ka Saamna Hum Karenge, Azad Hi Rahe Hain, aur Azad hi Rahenge," were his famous lines. A chance meeting with revolutionary Pranvesh Chatterji led Azad to Ram Prasad Bismil, the founder of Hindustan Republican AssociationHindustan Republican Association. Azad's primary job in the association was fund collection and this he did by looting the British.
Azad practised shooting in the forest of Orchha, situated 15 kilometres from Jhansi. An ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman, he took on the name of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari and lived in a hut that he built near a Hanuman temple on the banks of the Satar River. A nearby village has been named Azadpura in his honour by the Madhya Pradesh government. He learned how to drive a car during his days in Jhansi and also came in contact with many revolutionaries who shared his socialist ideology for the society.
Azad shot to fame after being part of the 1925 Kakori Train Robbery. He was lastly involved in the shooting of J.P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.
Chandra Shekhar Azad shot himself with a Colt pistol to escape being captured by the British February 27, 1931, in Alfred Park. Azad was rounded up by British police after an informer told them about Azad's whereabouts. As the British police opened fire, Azad sustained injuries in the process of saving himself and Sukhdev, another revolutionary. He managed to convince Sukhdev to escape. True to his promise of always being free, Chandra Shekhar Azad shot himself with his last bullet.
The pistol is on display at the Allahabad Museum. His body was disposed of in secrecy but when the people of India heard about Azad's death, they congregated at the park, now renamed Chandra Shekhar Azad Park and shouted slogans hailing Azad.