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Unofficially Speaking... — The Real Superheroes

Indian Super Hero Chandra Shekar Azad

Sitaram Tiwari married Jagrani Devi after his two previous wives died young and it was as if fate was conspiring to bring them together, for a purpose far greater and bigger than either of them could have ever imagined. The couple welcomed their first born, Sukhdev, in Badarka and soon moved to Alirajpur State and it is here, in a village called Bhawra that the story actually starts.  

Home of Chandra Shekar Azad

In the quite village of Bhawra on the 23rd of July 1906 Jagrani Devi birth to another child, a son who was going to re-write the history of India forever. Born Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, the greatest revolutionary India has ever seen was a devout Brahmin and believed it was his “dharma” to fight for others and that is exactly what he did, throughout his life.  

Chandra Shekhar received his early schooling in Bhawra district in Jhabua. Jagrani wanted her son to be a great Sanskrit scholar and that’s how Chandra Shekhar found himself in Kashi Vidyapeeth in Banras. Chandra Shekhar came from a generation of Indians who were deeply inspired by the launch of Non-Cooperation Movement by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1920. Deeply troubled by the Jalianwalabagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919, Chandra Shekhar took an active part in the Non-Cooperation Movement when he barely 15 years old.  

Chandra Shekhar Azad's Family

He was arrested for taking part in the movement and was sentenced to fifteen day’s imprisonment. This arrest would become the most defining moment of his life because when the magistrate asked for his name he replied “Azad” and thus was born the great revolutionary we all know as Chandra Shekhar Azad. He was sentenced to 15 lashes for this but every time the whip lashed at him he shouted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. That was the day 15-year-old Chandra Shekhar Tiwari became Chandra Shekhar Azad. It was also the day when Azad vowed that the British would never capture him alive.  

Non-Cooperation Movement

Azad was disappointed when Gandhiji suspended the Non-Cooperation Movement. While Gandhiji saw the Chauri Chaura incident, where a crowd of people participating in the Non-Coperation Movement burned down a police station leading to the massacre of 22 policemen, as appalling, Azad felt that violence was not unacceptable in a struggle, especially after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. So, after Gandhiji suspended the movement Azad was attracted by more violent and revolutionary ideas.  

Azad committed himself to complete independence and was the first among many Indian revolutionaries to use arms in the fight for independence. Azad also believed that India’s future lay in socialism. It was around this time that Azad met a young revolutionary called Pranvesh Chatterji. Chatterji introduced him Ram Prasad Bislmil and they became life-long friends. 

Ram Prasad Bismil

Ram Prasad Bismil had formed the revolutionary organization Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). HRA’s aim was to create an independent India, an India with equal rights and opportunity to everyone without discrimination of caste, creed, religion or social status.  Azad was very impressed by Ram Prasad Bismil and HRA. But it wasn’t just Azad who was impressed with this meeting, Azad himself made quite an impression on Bismil when he put his hand over a lamp and did not remove it till his skin burnt.  

Thereafter Azad became an active member of HRA. He used to collect funds for HRA by robbing government property. Azad and his compatriots planned and executed several acts of violence against the British and most of them were executed from Ram Prasad Bismil’s hometown Shahjahanpur. 


Kakori Train robbery of 1925 was a part of these revolutionary activities to raise funds. The Number 8 Down train that was travelling from Saharanpur to Lucknow was carrying the money-bags belonging to the British Government Treasury in the guard's cabin. The robbery conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan was supposed to fulfill three purposes. One, to get money for the purchase of weaponry from the British Administration itself. Second, to get some public attention by creating a positive image of the HRA among Indians to overcome their bad image that British had been propagating and lastly to shake the British Administration by taking away money from them. 
The robbery was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad and other  HRA members. The revolutionaries got to loot just bags of money but not a single Indian was looted.  One passenger was accidently killed and the revolutionaries escaped to Lucknow. Several of the revolutionaries involved in the HRA were arrested following the robbery. Both Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan were sentenced to death and were hanged to death. After the arrest and sentencing of  Ram Prasad Bismil, Azad reorganized the HRA. He then along with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru, transformed the HRA into the HSRA in 1928 so as to achieve their primary aim of an independent  India based on socialist principle.
In the same year, headed by Sir John Simon British Government sent a commission to assess the political situation in India. Political parties boycotted the commission as it did not include a single Indian and did not serve the Indian voice. The Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, a silent protest was held under the leadership of Lajpat Rai. This was not taken with good spirits by British and superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the lathi-charge. During the lathi-charge, Lalaji got severely injured and even in this condition he addressed the crowd and said "I declare that the blows struck at me today will be the last nails in the coffin of British rule in India". He never recovered from the injuries and attained martyrdom on 17 November 1928. To this Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar and Chandrashekhar Azad took a vow to kill Scott. However, in a case of mistaken identity, Bhagat Singh shot John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police. A constable followed them while they were running away. Chandrashekar Azad warned the head constable to back off and fired a warning shot missing him by distance, the constable did not stop to which Azad fired again, fatally injuring him.

Jhansi was very special for Azad. Jhansi had been his organization’s hub for some time. The forest of Orchha, some 15 kilometers from Jhansi, was where he practiced his shooting making him an expert marksman. It was also here where he trained other members of his group. Azad, an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman, built a hut near to a Hanuman Temple on the banks of the river Satar. In fact, Azad who was an expert in wearing disguises is once said to have disguised himself as a priest in a Hanuman temple to escape a British police dragnet. Here he lived under the alias Harishankar Brahmachari for a long period. He even started teaching the children from the nearby village of Dhimarpura. He created a good rapport with the locals there that now the village has been renamed Azadpura by the Madhya  Pradesh government. Azad also learned to drive a car when he was in Jhansi. 
In Azad’s own words Jahnsi was a safe place for him. He left Jhansi and he was betrayed by one of his own former group members. It was February 27, 1931, Azad was in Alfred Park (now Chndrashekhar Azad Park), Allahabad, where he had gone to meet with fellow revolutionary Sukhdev. One of his former group members saw him at the park and tipped off the police about Azad’s location. The police who were desperate to capture Azad surrounded the whole park within minutes. In the initially exchange of fire Azad was injured by a bullet to his thigh. This made it impossible for Azad to escape but he managed to cover for Sukhdev who escaped. Azad fought a valiant lone battle against the British officers. He killed three policemen and injured some others. At last when he was left with only one bullet in his pistol, he shot himself, thus keeping the promise he made to himself of never letting the British capture him alive.


Our tribute to the Legendary Hero Chandra Shekhar Azad: