What was common between Aamir Khan’s character in ‘Rang De Basanti’ and Sunny Deol’s in ’23 March 1931: Shaheed’ is they were both a portrayal of Chandrashekhar Azad. Having joined the freedom movement with Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation back in 1921, Azad went onto become a revolutionary in his own right and belonged to the more fierce batch of revolutionaries who won us our freedom. On his death anniversary today, we cannot help but remember how Azad’s short life of 24 years gave the nation a fighter worth remembering for all time to come.
Here in 2017 several youth have chipped in to discussions about how there is no one way to show one’s love for the country and how we need not love our country fiercely in order to be a patriot. Back in Azad’s time, youth did not have that kind of luxury and used whatever bit they had to win their freedom to love the country. Our country was not ours and thanks to revolutionaries like Azad who went out and gave up their lives, we today have an India that belongs to us and listens to us. Azad joined the freedom struggle as a 15 year old and Non-Cooperation was the first movement he took part in.
After his arrest and later the suspension of the movement in 1922, Azad came under the Hindustan Republican Association founded by another revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil. After the death of Bismil, Azad took the reins of HRA in his hands and renamed it Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. His was not a revolution based on ahimsa but in fact the polar opposite. It is said that to convince Bismil to allow Chandrashekhar Azad into the HRA, the latter put his hand over a lamp and did not remove it till the skin started to burn. That kind of passion and aggression for the nationa’s freedom is probably one that died with revolutionaries like him.
With his dream to build an India on socialist principles, Azad’s fund collection for the HRA was mostly out of robberies of government property. Azad had been a part of the famous Kakori conspiracy and also attempted to blow up the Viceroy’s train in 1926. When Lala Lajpat Rai’s peaceful protest was lathicharged upon by the police, Azad along with Bhagat Singh,Rajguru and other revolutionaries decided upon revenge. The plan was to kill Scott, the then police superintendent of police but instead ended up killing John Saunders who was the Assistant Superintendent. It was in this shooting in Alfred Park that Azad lost his life after Nehru gave out Azad’s hiding place.
Contrary to popular wisdom however, Azad did not shoot himself. He died of multiple shots. His postmortem report in the book ‘Amar Shaheed Chandrashekhar Azad’ by Vishwanath Gangadhar Vaishampayan says so. This man was with him in the alfred park and Azad made him escape under the cover of his firing. He could not escape himself because the first shot of Nott Bower had fractured his femur. It was on this date in 1931 that Azad got a place in our massive book of men who martyred themselves in the freedom struggle. It was on this date in 1931 that Chandrashekhar Azad got a place in our massive book of men who martyred themselves in the freedom struggle.
True to his motto of ‘Azad hai, azad rahenge’, Chandrashekhar died a free man and left us a legacy to look up to.