Chandra Shekhar Azadpopularly known as Azad was an Indian revolutionary who reorganized the Hindustan Republican Association under the new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) after the death of its founder, Ram Prasad Bismil, and three other prominent party leaders, Roshan Singh, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Ashfaqulla Khan. His role was crucial in inspiring the others of his generation to participate in the national movement for freedom.He is considered to be the mentor of Bhagat Singh and chief strategist of the HSRA.
Chandra Shekhar Azad was born on July 23, 1906 in Badarka village of Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. His parents were Pandit Sitaram Tiwari and Jagarani Devi.Pandit Sitaram Tiwari was serving in erstwhile estate of Alirajpur (situated in present day Madhya Pradesh) and Chandra Shekhar Azad's childhood was spent in the village Bhabra. His original name was Chandrasekhar Tiwari.
He received his early schooling in Bhavra District in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. For higher studies he went to the Sanskrit Pathashala at Varanasi.Chandrashekhar was deeply troubled by the Jalianwalabagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. In 1921, when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation movement, he actively participated in the protest movement. He was arrested and received his first punishment at the age of fifteen for this act of civil disobedience. When the magistrate asked him his name, he said “Azad” (meaning free). For this, he was sentenced to fifteen lashes. With each stroke of the whip, young Chandrasekhar shouted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. From that point onwards, Chandrashekhar assumed the title of Azad and came to be known as Chandrashekhar Azad.
After suspension of the non-cooperation movement, Azad was attracted by more aggressive and violent revolutionary ideals. He committed himself to complete independence by any means. Towards this end, he formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association and was mentor to revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Rajguru. HSRA’s goal was full Indian independence and wanted to build a new India based on socialist principles. Azad and his compatriots also planned and executed several acts of violence against the British. He was involved in numerous such activities like the Kakori Train Robbery (1925), the attempt to blow up the Viceroy’s train (1926), and the shooting of John Poyantz Saunders at Lahore (1928) to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.
Chandrashekhar Azad was a terror for British police. He was on their hit list and the British police badly wanted to capture him dead or alive. On February 27, 1931 Chandrashekhar Azad met two of his comrades at the Alfred Park Allah bad. He was betrayed by an informer who had informed the British police. The police surrounded the park and ordered Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender. Chandrashekhar Azad fought alone valiantly and killed three policemen. But finding himself surrounded and seeing no route for escape, Chandrashekhar Azad shot himself. Thus he kept his pledge of not being caught alive.