Chandrashekhar Azad was born in Uttar Pradesh in Unnao district. His early education was done in Varanasi. When he was young, he was stirred by the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919. This lit a fire to struggle for the country’s independence in him. He soon got a golden opportunity as Mahatma Gandhi launched the Non Cooperation Movement in 1920.
When he got caught during one of the protests, he called himself as ‘Azad’ or free. Thus, the moniker of Azad stuck with his name ever since. His defiance even in the face of punishment was inspirational of his compatriots. He also made a promise to himself to never being apprehended again and die while breathing the free air.
Soon, Azad rose to prominence with several high profile incidents like the Kakori train robbery and killing of Officer Saunders in Lahore. Kakori case was an attempt to raid the British armory while Saunders was killed by mistake as Azad wanted to kill the person who dealt the lethal blow to Lajpat Rai’s head during the Simon Commission protests.
Realizing the need for an organized formation, he founded the ‘Hindustan Socialist
Republican Association’. To his credit, he was able to recruit the best young minds at the time like Rajguru, Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt etc. This band of brothers adopted a never before seen strategy of aggression toward the British
colonizers. They started targeting officials involved in cases of violence and aggression toward Indians.
The British regime declared him a wanted felon and terrorist. He was chased
everywhere and was able to evade on most occasions. However, in Feb 1931, he got played by his own compatriot who revealed his whereabouts to the Police. Azad was in Alfred Park, Allahabad when he was hemmed into a corner by the police. Azad would not relent and tried to defend his position killing few officials in the process. However, when he could see the writing on the wall, he shot himself to keep his vow of never being caught again by the authorities.
After his death the organization lost its other stalwarts like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru etc. and lost its way. The fact that it could not be sustained even for few years speaks volumes about the kind of leadership a 25 year Azad demonstrated. He will always be remembered as the man who valued freedom more than his own life.