Did Nehru Betray Chandrashekhar Azad by Informing the British about Him?
Magistrate: What is your name?
Chandrashekhar Tiwari: Azad (Free).
Magistrate: Your father’s name?
Chandrashekhar Tiwari: Swatantrata (Independence).
Magistrate: Where is your residence?
Chandrashekhar Tiwari: Jail.
This was the conversation between the court magistrate and Chandrashekhar Tiwari after the latter was arrested for his participation in the non-cooperation movement in December 1921. He was then only 15 years old! The transition from Chandrashekhar Tiwari to Chandrashekhar Azad happened at the age of 15. ‘Azad’, who attained martyrdom at 24, continues to impact and influence the sons and daughters of Bharat Mata and will continue to influence for eternity.
Chandrashekhar Azad was born to Sitaram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi Tiwari on 23 July 1906 at Bhavra village in the present-day Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. He was also called Bhim, as he looked like a bodybuilder and his physique resembled Bhim, the second Pandava prince of Mahabharata. During his childhood, Azad mingled with the Bhil children and became an expert in archery, wrestling, and swimming.
Chandrashekhar’s mother wanted him to become a Sanskrit scholar. He thus enrolled at Kashi Vidhyapeeth, Benares to study after his early education at Alirajpur. Azad was average in his studies. Attaining a degree, he did not want to serve the British. Hence, he had a deep aversion for studies. Meanwhile, during his stay in Benares, he drew inspiration from the freedom fighters. He decided to actively participate in the freedom struggle and drive the British out of India. At the age of 15, he joined Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. And he earned the title of ‘Azad’ following his answers to the magistrate during trial after his arrest. Thereafter he became popular as Chandrashekhar Azad.
Chandrashekhar Azad became more aggressive after suspension of the non-cooperation movement in 1922 by Gandhi. He wanted to achieve India’s complete independence by any means. During this time, he met Pranvesh Chatterji, a young freedom fighter who introduced him to the founder of Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) Ram Prasad Bismil. HRA’s aim was to free India and advocated equality of all people. During his introduction with Bismil, Azad pledged to serve the cause of the HRA, i.e. the freedom of India by putting his hand over a lamp. He did not remove it till his skin burnt. This impressed Bismil. Azad became an active member of the HRA.
Soon Azad became a master propagandist. He secretly distributed leaflets instilling the spirit of nationalism in India’s youth to fight united against the British. He collected funds for the HRA. Many more freedom fighters joined him; worth mentioning were Shri Yogesh Chatterji, Shri Rabindranath Kar, Shri Sachin Sanyal, to name a few. He imparted training in the art of warfare; so did other members of the HRA. To collect more money to buy arms, Chandrashekhar Azad took the lead in committing robberies of government property. In 1925, he was involved in the “Kakori Train Robbery” and attempted to blow up the Viceroy’s train in 1926.
On 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a protest march in Lahore against the Simon Commission, as it had no Indian members. Scott, then the Superintendent of Police in Lahore, ordered lathi charge of the protesters. Lala Lajpat Rai and thousands of other protesters were injured. Rai died of injuries 17 days later. To avenge Lala Lajpat Rai’s death, Chandrashekhar Azad along with Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar, and others planned to kill Scot. But they accidentally killed Saunders in Lahore. The group escaped safely.
After the death of Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad reorganised the HRA under a new name called Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA) in 1926. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were actively involved in this group. Manmath Nath Gupt, a fellow member of HSRA, described the activities of the HSRA in his writings. For some time, he made Jhansi the hub of HSRA’s activities. He used the forest of Orchha to practice shooting and train the youth in the art of warfare. He stayed in disguise in a hut under the name of Pandit Harishankar Brahmachari near a Hanuman temple on the banks of the Satar River.
On 27 February 1931, Chandrashekhar Azad waited in hiding with Sukhdev Raj for a secret meeting at Alfred Park in Allahabad. The British had been looking for Azad for a long time, but in vain. They could never capture him. After an informant notified the British about his whereabouts, the police surrounded him in the park. In the process of defending himself and Sukhdev, Azad killed three British policemen and wounded few others. He was able to help Sukhdev Raj escape. After a long shootout, when he realized that his capture was for certain, he shot himself dead with his Colt pistol, holding true to his pledge to never be captured alive. He was then only 24 years old!
“Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge,
Azad hee rahein hain, Azad hee rahenge”
(“Will face the enemies’ bullets, Will remain free, Will Remain Free”)
This was his slogan, which he voiced often!
The British could never have trapped Azad had the informer not informed them. History of India would have been different! Azad was another Netaji Bose in the making!
Was Jawaharlal Nehru the informant who notified the British about Azad’s whereabouts? According to an article by Daily O, Sujit Azad, the nephew of Chandrashekhar Azad, claimed that Nehru had provided the British specific information about Azad’s whereabouts. According to him, based on information provided by Nehru, the British accosted him leading to his martyrdom. Sujit Azad also claimed that Azad handed over HSRA funds to Nehru hoping to free Bhagat Singh in exchange. Nehru took the money, but did not keep his words. He played no role in freeing Bhagat Singh!
On the day of his death, Chandrashekhar Azad had visited Jawaharlal Nehru. A verbal fight ensued between them. After he left Nehru’s house that day, he was trapped in Alfred Park by British forces. Isn’t it a coincidence? Besides, Nehru had confirmed in his autobiography that he did meet Azad in early 1931.
So did Jawaharlal Nehru betray Azad by informing the British about his whereabouts?
Featured image courtesy: chandrashekharazad.org and YugaParivartan.