Today happens to be the death anniversary of Chandra Shekhar Azad, revolutionary freedom fighter and an enduring symbol of resistance against the forces of oppression.
On this day in 1931, he took his own life by gunshot after being surrounded by British forces, who were tipped off to his location by a traitorous ally. He was just 24.
But in the short span of those years that he was alive, Azad achieved incredible and daring feats that furthered the cause of the Independence movement as well as fuelled the drive of those who wanted to fight the colonisers.
This was a person whose entire being was committed to the idea of freedom – from oppression, tyranny, discrimination, and unlawful persecution.
Driven by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Azad joined Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement at the age of 14. In fact, he only got the moniker Azad after telling the judge that was his name when he was arrested. After the non-cooperation movement, he was involved with the revolutionary group HRA as well as worked with Bhagat Singh. His activities funded the freedom struggle, got revenge on some of the most brutal British officials, and inspired many to take up the fight.
Right up to the end of his life, in a long drawn shoot-out with British forces, this was a man who was steadfast in his fight for and belief in Azadi. That is a quality that highly relevant today, especially considering what is happening in India.
The people of India, for months now, have been protesting against the highly discriminatory CAA and NRC. Meanwhile, high ranking ministers of the ruling party have been consistently making incendiary statements without reprisal, leading to a pogrom like situation in the capital.
In today’s environment of suppression and clamping down of human rights and freedom, the ideology and ethos of Azad is especially significant.
At the moment, minorities are being dragged out of their homes, their places of work are being burnt to the ground, the state machinery is in full effect to deny everything, and there even videos of police and security personnel working hand-in-glove with rioters to wreak havoc and remove the people they consider below them.