Popularly known as ‘Azad’, Chandra Shekhar was born on July 23, 1906. He was born to Pandit Sitaram Tiwari and Jagran Devi in the Bhavra village, today known as Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh. His mother always wanted him to be a great scholar and hence convinced his father to send him to Kashi Vidyapeeth for education. However, in 1921, at the age of 15, he joined the non-cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi.
Today, on his 113th birth anniversary, here are some lesser-known facts about the legend.
· In December 1921, despite being a student Azad joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement at the age of 15. It was during the movement he was arrested for the first time.
· He played a key role in Kakori Rail Dacoity in 1925, the train carried cash that belonged to the British treasury. He was also involved in the killing of assistant superintendent of police John Poyantz Saunders in 1928.
· He adopted his last name ‘Azad’ which means ‘free’ in Urdu. On being produced in court, he mentioned his name as ‘Azad’, father’s name as ‘Swatantrata’ meaning independence and residence as ‘Jail’. He also declared that the police would never capture him alive.
· He mastered the art of archery from the tribal Bhils of Jhabua district. The art helped out in the arms struggle against Britishers.
· He was fondly called as ‘Quicksilver’ by his mentor Ram Prasad Bismil for his alertness and restless attitude.
· Bhagat Singh joined Azad to fight the British after the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. Azad trained him in convert conducts.
· On February 27, 1931, Azad killed three policemen and injured several others in Alfred Park while defending himself and Sukhdev Raj. Sukhdev Raj was able to escape but Azad was not. Holding true to his pledge of getting caught alive, he shot himself with his last bullet. The pistol is exhibited at the Allahabad Museum.
· Azad died on February 27, 1931, at Alfred Park in Allahabad. The park has been renamed as Chandrashekhar Azad Park. Besides several schools, colleges and public institutions are named after him.
Here are some of the quotes by Chandra Shekhar Azad:
· If yet your blood does not rage, then it is water that flows in your veins. For what is the flush of youth, if it is not of service to the motherland.
· We will face the bullets of the enemies; we are free and will remain free.
·Don’t see others doing better than you, beat your own records every day because success is a fight between you and yourself.