Was Chandra Shekhar Azad a terrorist?
Jawaher Lal Nehru, !ndia's first Prime Minister in his autobiography has described the great revolutionary, freedom fighter, patriot and martyr Chandra Shekhar Azad as a terrorist. He also described revolutionaries as a "group of terrorists".
The Webster dictionary describes terrorism as an act of violence to intimidate populace for political purpose. Thus a person, inspired by ideology or religion commits or threatens to commit acts of violence on civilians to realise some political objective is a errorist. By this defmition Chandra Shekhar Azad cannot be called a terrorist. He did commit acts of violence. But this violence was neither directed against civilians nor was ment to intimidate general populace. He and other revolutionaries killed some Britishers and their henchmen, just as a soldier kills his enemies in the battle-field. Therefore, Chandra Shekhar Azad cannot be termed as a 'terrorist'. Never in the history, and nowhere in the world, soldiers fighting for their country have been described as terrorists. Then why did Iawaher Lal Nehru describe Chandra Shekhar Azad as terrorist?
In early nineteenth century a controversy was raging among the officials of East India Company whether Indians should be educated in traditional Indian knowledge through classical languages such as Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic or the modem knowledge of science and arts through English? Lord Macauley in his famous minutes pleaded for Western education through English medium and had prophesied that Indians so educated world create a class of persons, 'Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect'.
The fulfillment of this prophesy can be best seen in Jawaher Lal Nehru. He was an Indian only in blood and colour but was an Englishman "in taste, opinion, moral and intellect". He not only admired British, but all his life tried hard to be like them, to be one of them and aped them. How else one would explain his remarks to Iohn Galbraith in 1963 (at the ripe old age of 74), when he shared a deep dark secret of his heart with the then American Ambassador to India. "Well, you know that I am the last Englishman to rule in India". (J.K. Galbraith, A life of our times: Memoir, Bostan 1981, page 408).
It is hard to believe that the Prime Minister of free India would take pride in calling himself an Englishman! It is appalling! It is shocking! But it would not look so shocking if one were to look into the mindset and make-up of Nehru's personality. His father Motilal Nehru had ensured that he had Westernised up-bringing. As an infant he was brought up by European nurses, and before leaving for England for study at the age of 15, he had an Irish-French tutor Brooks from the age of 11 to 15. He had tremendous influence on the young J awaher, and shaped his attitudes and thinking, who began to admire everything Western. With time, it grew into veneration, verging to adulation. Worse was that he did not see anything good in Indians and their culture. He acquired the supercilious attitude of the British that looked upon India and its people and culture either with down right contempt or at times with condescending patronage. All his life he remained prisoner of Macaulean mind set and could never really get out of it.
Young Jawaher Lal Nehru wrote to his father from Cambridge--"lndian were bound to have self government buL.. not before a few aeons of geological time! This may mean anything between a few million years and wholly incomprehensible period. The chief difficulty was the want of education and some million generations will be required to educate them (Indians) upto the colonial standard". This letter written at the age of 21, clearly establishes that he was over-awed and deeply cognizant of the 'superiority' of Britishers, and all his life suffered pangs of inferionty in relation to white rulers. At the crux were Nehru's feelings of being less than the white, which guided him to adopt the British way of life and call himself a white man.
In his court trial of 1922, Jawaher Lal Nehru himself stated that: "Less than ten years ago, I returned from England after a long stay there ... I had imbibed most of prejudices of Barrow and Cambridge, and in my likes and dislikes I was perhaps more an Englishman than an Indian. I looked upon the world almost from an Englishman's standpoint.; I was as much prejudiced in favour of England and the English as it was possible for an Englishman to be_.(quoted from Jawaher Lal Nehru by B.R. Nanda, 0. UP., page 255)
Prior to this statement of Nehru in 1922, almost a hundred years earlier, Lord Macauley, through English education, of Indians had dreamt of creating an "Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, opinion, moral and intellect". Macualey's soul, wherever it may be, in hell or in heaven, must have swollen with pride to see this perfect model of Macaulean Indian-who was not only an "English in taste, opinion, moral and intellect," but was "prejudiced in favour of England and the English as it was possible for an Englishman to be".
Iawaher Lal Nehru's contempt for Indians grew into hatred for them; he wanted to keep away from them as far as possible. In his letter to his father, he explained the chief reason, why he wanted to leave Cambridge and seek admission in Oxford was that there were now "too many Indians in Cambridge".
Even though, later in life, due to political compulsions, he had to write and speak about Indian people in glowing terms, his inner self never changed. All his talk of love and admiration of India always remained a veneer. Deep inside, he always remained a Macaulean Indian, aspiring to be an Englishman, and aping them all his life.
British hated revolutionaries. They scared the living day light out of them. They used invectives and expletives against them. They slandered and vilified them and expressed their hatred by calling them anarchists or terrorists.
If Englishman called the revolutionaries as 'terrorists', how could the Macaulean Indian have said anything else? They had to prove that they were more English than the English themselves. This should explain why Nehru calls Chandra Shekbar Azad as 'terrorist' in his auto-biography.
There is one more dimension to it. Both Indian National Congress and Indian revolutionaries aimed to free Indian from alien rule. While revolutionaries sought to wrest it from the Britishers, the Congress hoped to get it by begging, appealing, and pleading to British. Their paths were different. But Gandhiji and the Congress had the arrogance that only their path was right and the other path of revolutionaries, was wrong.
Gandhiji lost no opportunity of condemning the revolutionaries. He moved a resolution in All India Congress Committee session condemning the revolutionaries for bomb outrage perpetrated on the train in which Viceroy Lord Irwin was traveling in De. 1929:
"This Congress deplores the bomb outrage perpetrated on Viceroy's train and reiterates its conviction that such action is not only contrary to the creed of Congress but results in harm being done to the national cause. It congratulates the Viceroy and Lady Irwin and their party on their fortunate and narrow escape" (collected works a/Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XLII, page 341).
When Swami Govindanand and Dr. Alam opposed it and dubbed it unwarranted and argued that "Let us go our way and let them go their way", Gandhiji argued that nothing should deter us from registering the views of Congress". With this sense of self-righteousness, Gandhiji believed that those who did not follow the Congress creed of non-violence were to be censured and denounced. Gandhiji also in a secret letter to Viceroy Lord Irwin had written that his mission was to eliminate the revolutionaries and their violence. If Gandhiji did not have a good word for revolutionaries who were laying their lives at the alter of their country's freedom, how could his chosen-heir Jawaher Lal have different opinion. It should therefore not surprise that a Macaulean Indian, an anglo- phile and a Gandhian calls revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad with disdain as 'terrorist' .
Notwithstanding what Nehru and Gandhi may have said about evolutionaries Chandra Shekhar Azad was not a 'terrorist'. He never shed blood of innocent civilians to coerce British to quit India. He waged war against the British Raj and killed some British and their Indian henchmen, just as a soldier kills his enemies in war. In ultimate analysis, we owe our freedom to such valiant sons of motherland. Truthful history, based on facts, indivisible facts, and nothing but facts, is yet to be written in India.
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