‘Dushmano Ki Goliyon Ka Saamna Hum Karenge,
Azad Hi Rahein Hai, aur Azad hi Rahenge’
(I will face the bullets of the enemies,
I have been free and I’ll forever be free)
I never know for one reason, why this man, despite his heroics, Chandra Shekhar Azad gets little to no mention for the same. After all, he had everything one thinks of in a superhero. Tall, well built, son of the soil, has best friends loving and loathing him spontaneously (Bhagat Singh adulated him, Rajguru was irritated by his Spartan ideals, gives the villain a nightmare (British Empire here), and yet, except for a passive mention, he is wrongly denied a place in the glorious pages of the Indian history. If anyone loves Iron Man, or Hulk, my apologies, but move over those fictional blokes, as we had our own Super Hero, who accelerated Indian revolution for independence like nobody else ever did. This Super Hero is the famous revolutionary, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and this is his tale.
Born on 23rd July 1906, Monday, at Bhavra village, Alirajpur district (now Azadpura), this maverick of a revolutionary didn’t have an exactly bright start. His parents, Sitaram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi, had already lost three of their children, and Chandra Shekhar Azad himself was lean and weak at the time of his birth. However, once he attained adolescence, he grew like the moon, and soon earned himself an honorable name in the struggle for independence. Here are some reasons why Chandra Shekhar Azad should rightfully be declared as the Superhero of Indian revolution:-
- Master of Disguises:-
There was nobody, absolutely nobody, who could evade the British police and spies, with as much ease as Chandra Shekhar Azad did. He was a master of disguises.
After he escaped the crackdown post Kakori Train Raid, he shaved off his head apparently, and as a dedicated priest in the Dhimarpura village, he taught the village students Oriental literature (the Anglo Indian name for education in religion, and life skills). He used to converse at length with even policemen in general, sometimes demonizing his own image to the tastes of the constables. What the poor idiots never knew, that the revolutionary they were hotly pursuing, was calmly sitting with him, making mountains of mole hills about himself! Also, even though he was tall and heavy, he could run as fast as a bullet. When the police once attacked him at his refuge in the Dayanand Anglo Vedic College hostel, Kanpur, on 1st December, 1930, he took no time in shooting the hell out of them and escaping by running on the roof of the hostel. He jumped at least some 5 to 10 feet, to escape, although his junior, Shaligram Shukla wasn’t that lucky.
- A Big Shot:-
Had Chandra Shekhar Azad not been a revolutionary, he could have given India a gold medal for sure in the Olympics, much before Abhinav Bindra, in shooting. In the slang version, Azad was a real big shot. His shots were so accurate, they were said to have never missed their target. Once, when some of his friends asked him to shoot down a wavering leaf, Azad shot five times at the same. However, the leaf did not fall. When the friends mocked him and took down the leaf, they were in for a shock. Although the leaf hadn’t fallen, five bullet holes had clearly pierced the leaf! That was his accuracy! Had it not been for luck, even the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, would have fallen to his skills, when his Special train was blown up near Faridabad, on the morning of Monday, 23rd December 1929. Irwin just managed to evade death by seconds.
- A Friend for Life:-
Although Chandra Shekhar Azad did not make many friends, once he made them, he was committed to them for life, and who would ever know it better than Bhagat Singh himself! After the encounter of ASP Saunders, when Bhagat did not return, Azad was genuinely worried. When he returned, he knew to his dismay that the four annas which were given to Bhagat as his daily allowance for meals, was spent on a movie. He reprimanded Bhagat for the same. However, when Bhagat explained that the movie he went to was about the Independence struggle of United States of America, Azad quietly gave another four annas to him. When Bhagat Singh was imprisoned post the Assembly bombing case, Azad left no stone unturned to see him outside the prison, even at the cost of his own life. Many people, including Rajguru himself accused Azad of being a man with few emotions. However, when he was deeply affected by something, he would never it. He only wept twice, once when Bhagat was imprisoned for life, and the second time, when his most trusted aide, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, died of a failed bomb testing.
- Committed to Ideals:-
Unlike many other heroes, Chandra Shekhar Azad fortunately did not have a love life. He was single, but never ready to mingle. A true devotee of the God of Strength, Hanuman, he was committed to his ideals, and led a rather frugal life, expecting his comrades and friends to do the same. Once, when the early revolutionaries of HRA had raided a landlord’s house for the funds, one of his friends managed to chance upon a young girl. His beastly instincts came out, and he abducted her. When Azad saw this, and learnt of his actual intentions, he warned him, to which the lecherous guy refused. Having pledged to never outrage a woman’s modesty, Azad whipped out his Mauser pistol and shot the guy down. Even though they had to abandon the robbery, the leader, apparently Ram Prasad Bismil was pleased that Azad had stuck to his ideals. Some even say that the girl whom Azad had saved, later sent some jewelry and cash to help the cause of the HRA in gratitude!
Also once, to end the boredom, Rajguru pasted a cut photo of a model in a swimsuit. When Azad noticed it, he ripped it off without a word. Rajguru complained of it, to which Azad retorted, ‘If need be, I shall destroy anything beautiful, even Taj Mahal!’ Rajguru said in retaliation, ‘We are out to make the world beautiful, and he doesn’t want so at all!’ However, Azad later apologized to Rajguru, asking him to focus on the struggle of independence, because in his words, ‘one couldn’t afford to lose focus at this moment.’ No wonder why even at this young age, he was nicknamed ‘Panditji’ by his friends and comrades. He deserved that.
- One Man Army:-
Although Chandra Shekhar Azad had more achievements than failures throughout his short life of 25 years, the best in Azad came out only when he was surrounded by a garrison of more than 80 policemen on the unfortunate day of Friday, the 27th of February, 1931. Even though he had only three spare rounds with a solitary Colt Pocket Hammerless, 1903 Model in his hand, and brutally injured in the thigh, he not only helped his junior, Sukh Dev Raj escape, but also held the police at bay for more than three hours. He was a one man army in himself, not one policeman managed to get even an inch close to him. A British police officer shot in his left arm from behind, but Azad, the marksman that he was, shot straight into his heart without even looking back. The leader of the operation, SSP of Allahabad Knott Bauer challenged him to a surrender, only to receive a shot in his arm, which also dislocated his wrist bone. If that was enough, a bootlicking DSP, Bisheshar Singh, distraught by his ‘sahib’s injury, abused Chandra Shekhar Azad and India, to which Azad replied in the most hilarious way. One shot, and the jaw was broken down. Bisheshar got the lesson of his life, to be precise.
However, when only one bullet was left, it is said, and later proved, that Chandra Shekhar Azad, instead of surrendering to the police, shot the bullet in his temple, fulfilling his vow to remain free forever. 85 years later, it is sad to learn that such a braveheart, who served the perfect recipe for an action packed Bollywood flick (if there was any), has been sidelined as a ‘revolutionary terrorist’. Given how India is today, let us fulfill this pledge that was apparently written by Azad. We, the youth, need to unite against the menace of terrorism, whether physical or intellectual, because:-
‘अब भी जिसका खून न खौला, खून नहीं वो पानी है,
जो देश के नाम आ सके, वो बेकार जवानी है!’
(If yet your blood does not rage, then it is water that flows in your veins,
For what is the flush of the youth, if it’s not in the service of the motherland!)
Vande Mataram! Inquilab Zindabad!
Chandra Shekhar Azad: An Immortal Revolutionary of India, by Bhawan Singh Rana