Chandrasekhar Azad : Nehru did betray him, but not the way you think!

Chandrasekhar Azad is one of the most well known revolutionaries of Indian National Movement. His bravery, fearlessness and dedication for motherland has very few parallels in India’s struggle for freedom.

Chandrasekhar Azad was born on 23 July. 1906 in Alirajpur district of MP. They say the actions of a child indicate his future. Azad was sent to study at Varanasi. There, he was arrested for the first time during non-cooperation movement. He must have been 15-16 years old. On being asked his name, he answered “Azad” and received caning as a punishment. Since then Chandrasekhar Tiwari became Chandrasekhar Azad.

chandrasekhar azad

Although the leftists rejoice in calling him and his friends as “terrorists”, Azad was one of the most important revolutionaries in India at that time. He participated in Kakori conspiracy and was one of the few people, who escaped arrest.

After the leadership of revolutionary movement was hanged or jailed in Kakori case, Chandrasekhar Azad reorganized the movement and became the Commander-in-Chief of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army/HSRA. In that capacity he was known as Balraj.

There is a conspiracy theory that Jawaharlal Nehru betrayed Azad to police, which resulted in his encounter and death. I have tried to analyze the whole issue in the section below.

Did Nehru betray Chandrasekhar Azad?

It is no secret that Jawaharlal Nehru was against the revolutionary movement. He condemned it in congress meetings and said that it was “harmful for freedom movement”. In his autobiography, he writes how two young men came to meet him and were angry with him for “propaganda against terroristic violence.” They had an angry argument and Nehru “told them some hard things.” In turn they said that if he did not stop, they would “deal with me{Nehru}, the same way they had dealt with others”

The next passage I quote has been removed from some later versions of Nehru’s Autobiography for some mysterious reasons:-

I remember a curious incident about that time, which gave me an insight into the mind of the terrorist group in India. This took place soon after my discharge from prison, either a little before father’s death or a few days after. A stranger came to see me at our house, and I was told that he was Chandrasekhar Azad. I had never seen him before, but I had heard of him ten years earlier, when he had non-co-operated from school and gone to prison during the NCO movement in 1921. A boy of fifteen or so then, he had been flogged in prison for some breach of gaol discipline.

Later, he had drifted towards the terrorists, and he became one of their prominent men in North India. All this I had heard vaguely, and I had taken no interest in these rumours. He had been induced to visit me  because of the general expectation (owing to our release) that some negotiations between the Government and the Congress were likely. He wanted to know, if, in case of a settlement, his group of people would have any peace. Would they still be considered and treated as outlaws; hunted from one place to place, with a price on their heads, and the prospect of the gallows ever before them? Or, was there a possibility of their being allowed to pursue peaceful vocations? He told me that as far as he was concerned, as well as many of his associates, they were convinced now that purely terrorist methods were futile and did no good. He was not, however, prepared to believe that India would gain her freedom wholly by peaceful methods. He thought that some time in the future a violent conflict might take place, but this would not be terrorism. He ruled out terrorism as such, so far as the question of Indian freedom was concerned. But then, he added what was he to do when no chance was given him to settle down, as he was being hounded all the time? Many of the terroristic acts that had occurred recently, according to him, were purely in self-defence. 

I was glad to learn from Azad, and I had confirmation of this subsequently, that the belief in terrorism was dying down. As a group notion, indeed, it had practically gone, and individual and sporadic cases were probably due to some special reason, act of reprisal, or individual aberration, and not to a general idea. This did not mean, of course, that the old terrorists or their new associates had become converts to non-violence, or admirers of British rule. But they did not think in terms of terrorism as they used to. Many of them, it seems to me, have definitely the fascist mentality.

I tried to explain to Chandrasekhar Azad what my philosophy of political action was, and tried to convert him to my view-point. But I had no answer to his basic question: what was he to do now? Nothing was likely to happen that would bring him, or his like, and relief or peace. All I could suggest was that he should use his influence to prevent the occurrence of terrorist acts in the future, for these could only injure the larger cause as well as his own group. 

Two or three weeks later, while the Gandhi-Irwin talks were going on, I heard at Delhi that Chandraskhar Azad had been shot down and killed by the police in Allahabad. He was recognised in the day time in a park, and was surrounded by a large force of police. He tried to defend himself from behind a tree; there was quite a shooting match, and he injured one or two policemen before he was shot down.

Even after ignoring the patronizing tone, there are several points to note in this passage:-

  • Azad was not some random person. By 1930, he was a famous man and wanted in Kakori as well as Lahore cases. The Lahore case was widely reported in newspapers, due to the heroic statements of Bhagat Singh and it was impossible that Nehru had only “heard of him vaguely”. Indeed, he was one of the few who had evaded capture after Kakori. Being a part of defense panel of lawyers of Kakori case, along with his father, Nehru either did not even study the case he claims he fought, or is plain lying here!
  • Nehru says that Azad wanted to settle down peacefully. This seems to be a lie. A person who was engaged in revolutionary activities, just a few months ago would not talk in such a manner. Indeed, he had the option to surrender even during his last encounter, but preferred to die fighting rather than peacefully surrendering. This casts serious doubts on the veracity of facts narrated by Nehru.
  • It is also to be noted that Nehru says that these revolutionaries, in his language “terrorists”, had a “fascist mentality”. Nehru has accepted that he was a follower of Communism and inspied by Lenin in this very book. It is well known that “fascists” were the greatest enemies of Communists ! It is true of those days, as it is today that Communists brand their enemies as “fascists”. It must be noted that Nehru had claimed that he would physically stop the fascists, if need be. He did collaborate with British during second world war against those he considered “fascist”!
  • It is more likely that Azad had met Nehru to get the sentence of Bhagat Singh and his friends commuted. The Gandhi Irwin talks were on. The purpose of Bhagat Singh’s voluntary arrest and trial was propaganda from the courts. That had also finished. Indeed, Azad had tried to break Bhagat Singh out of prison a few months ago.
  • It must also be noted that Nehru misrepresents the conditions of Azad’s death. He says with flippancy “there was quite a shooting match, and he injured one or two policemen before he was shot down“. The truth is Azad was not shot down, but shot himself. It is also noteworthy that he killed three policemen in the shootout. When Nehru distorts a publicly available truth so easily, it can only be imagined what he could do with private conversations.

It was alleged in some versions of the conspiracy theory that Azad died the same day that he met Nehru. Clearly, that is not true. Nehru was in Delhi the day Azad attained veergati.

What is true is that Nehru distorted the truth in his autobiography to project revolutionary movement as unimportant. It would also have been on his mind that he could take some associated glory of the movement and establish himself as bigger than the movement itself.

Some people have claimed that the link who worked with Nehru and who actually informed British about Azad’s location was Yashpal, later a big Hindi writer. It is known that Yashpal was working with British, and there is a fair chance that he indeed was the traitor, but he did not need Nehru to contact British.

Betrayal of Azad in Independent India

Nehru benefited a lot from revolutionary movement. He reaped electoral dividends, specially in 1937 and 1946, on the blood of revolutionaries. But he was always insecure of his own position. Thus, he reduced any perceived threat to it by all means necessary.

Azad’s mother Jagrani Devi survived his martyrdom. Old and destitute, she lived a miserable life for many years in the belief that her son will return. After independence, a friend and follower of Azad, Sadashiv Malkapurkar was released from jail. He went to Jagrani Devi and found her half starved, surviving on coarse grains. He became a second son to her, brought her to his home, took her to pilgrimages and when she died in 1952, cremated her.

After her death, Sadashiv tried to establish a small idol of Jagrani Devi in a public place in Jhansi. He got the image made and requested the government for some place. The request was denied.

Readers will remember that after death of Sardar Patel, Nehru had no danger to his power from any person within the country. However, the government was always suspicious. The white sahibs had gone, but semi-white/brown sahibs were ruling.

Sadashiv tried to establish the image by his own initiative, but police took action in which several people were shot dead and many more received injuries. This was in independent India! Nehru had betrayed Azad after his death.

After a few years, her image was finally installed. However, in absence of upkeep, it was in dire conditions.

Jagdamba Prasad Misra wrote a poem :-

शहीदों की चिताओं पर लगेगें हर बरस मेले
वतन पर मरनेवालों का यही बाक़ी निशाँ होगा

The funeral pyres of the martyrs will be sites for carnivals,

That would be the last remembrance of patriots who gave their life.

The congress ecosystem appropriated the whole legacy of independence struggle. They engaged Marxists to write a history in which people like Chandrasekhar Azad have no place. Nehru ignored the revolutionaries and the lead was followed by his descendants. He betrayed them in a much more profound manner. He erased their contributions from history.

We now read that the independence was “given to us” by “Saint of Sabarmati” without the use of “sword and shield”. Charkha is what gave us independence, not the blood of the patriots and the tears of their mothers.

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