On July 23rd 1906, famous Indian revolutionary, Chandra Shekhar Azad was born in Bhawra in Madhya Pradesh.
Born Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, he was only 15 when he joined the non-cooperation movement headed by Mahatma Gandhi, which eventually led to his arrest. On the day of his arrest, Chandra Shekhar took on the name 'Azad', which meant the liberated one.
In 1922, after the non-cooperation movement had been suspended, Azad became extremely passionate about the cause of freedom and decided to secure Independence for India under any circumstances. Azad believed that the future of India lay in socialism. In the meanwhile Azad met Pranvesh Chatterji, a young revolutionary, who introduced him to Ram Prasad Bismil who was running a revolutionary organization called Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). The organization wanted an independent India without any discrimination and which provided equal opportunities for all irrespective of their religion, social status, caste or creed.
Azad was very impressed by the ideology of the HRA and wanted to become a member of the organization. Bismil was impressed by Azad’s dedication when he put his hand on a flame and did not remove it till his skin burned. Azad soon became a member of the HRA and began collecting funds, though most of the funds were collected through burglaries of government properties. Azad was determined to build a new India based on socialist principles. Azad, along with his companions, planned and carried out several acts of violence against the British.
Most of Azad’s revolutionary work was carried out from Shahjahanpur. He was also involved in the famous Kakori train robbery in 1925, later he also tried to bomb the viceroy’s train in 1926. In 1928, to avenge the killing of Lal Lajpat Rai, Azad assassinated J.P Saunders in Lahore. Azad made Jhansi the headquarters of his work and used the forests of Orchha (15 km from Jhansi) for shooting practice, where he trained other members of his group. Near the forest, Azad built a temple on the banks of the River Satar and began living under the alias of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari, he also began teaching the children of the nearby village, Dhimapur. Later, Dhimapur was renamed Azadpura by the state government of Madhya Pradesh.
Gradually, Azad came into contact with Sadashivrao Malkapurkar, Vishwanath Vaishampayan and Bhagwan Das Mahaur, who became an important part of his revolutionary group. After the Kakori train robbery in 1925, the British cracked a whip on all kinds of revolutionary activities and many revolutionaries were arrested and sentenced to death for their activities. Azad and his companions escaped. Later Azad reorganized the HRA with the help of Bhagwati Chandra Vohra, who was a close associate of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. In 1928, the HRA became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) and continued its aim to create a new India based on socialist principles.
On 27th February 1931, Azad went to Allahabad where he went to Alfred Park to meet fellow revolutionary Sukhdev Raj. The police, who had been notified of their presence by an informer, reached there. Azad was wounded while killing three policemen making it easy for Sukhdev to escape. After a long crossfire with the police and after having been badly injured, Azad lived up to his promise of never wanting to be captured alive by the British and used his last bullet to kill himself.
Alfred Park where Azad died has now been renamed Chandra Shekhar Azad Park and many other buildings and schools across India have been named after him. The police file related to Azad has been preserved in the CID Headquarters in Lucknow and the pistol he used to shoot himself is on display in the Allahabad Museum within the Chandra Shekhar Azad Park.
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1927: Daily radio transmission broadcasting in India started by the first commercial radio station - the Bombay Radio Station.
1956: India celebrates the birth centenary of Lokmanya Tilak.