Friday, February 1, 2008

Chandra Shekhar Azad

(July 23, 1906 — February 27, 1931)

AS his name suggests, Azad was a man of independent spirit, and it hurt him to see his motherland in bondage. Azad became a revolutionary by taking part in the Non-cooperation Movement when he was barely a teenager. He was arrested for his activities and imprisoned. Far from being deterred, he joined the Hindustan Socialist Republican Party and the Indian Revolutionary Party.

Azad soon became friends with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and other revolutionaries. They held secret meetings and drew up plans to end the British Empire in India.

Strong and well-built, Azad was not content with idle speculation; he wanted to do something to shake the foundations of the British Empire. He did not believe that marches and hunger strikes would make any difference to the British. Like his other revolutionary friends he believed: Na Shah Iran ne kiya, na Shah Roos ne; Angrez ko tabah kiya kaartoos ne.

A dare-devil to the last, Azad was involved in the Kakori Mail Raid and the assassination of Saunders. He was also involved in the bomb explosion in the Central Legislative Assembly. With every act, his police file grew thicker and thicker. The police did everything they could to arrest him but Azad was too clever for them. In the end they announced a reward of Rs. 30,000, a mighty amount for the time, for his arrest. The strategy paid off as Azad was betrayed by a colleague of his.

On February 27, 1931, as he sat in Alfred Park, Allahabad, Azad realised that he was surrounded by the police. Not the one to surrender, he fought valiantly to the very last until his body was riddled with bullets.

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