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Prithvi Singh Azad

(1892 – 1989) – (Punjab)

Prithvi Singh Azad (Aged 97) was born in 1892 in Lalru, Mohali, Punjab, India, a small town. Although he was a Rajput, he dedicated himself to the upliftment of Dalits. He was attracted to the nationalist movement while he was still a teenager, and was reportedly influenced by the arrest of Lokmanya Tilak and Khudi Ram Bose by the British government in 1907-08.

In 1912, he visited the US where he met Lala Har Dayal, one of the founders of the later-day Ghadar Party, a militant organization formed by Indians in North America for the liberation of India. He also helped establish Hindustan Ghadar, the party’s mouthpiece.

Returning to India with around 150 freedom fighters, he was captured by the British on 7 December 1914, and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. He spent time in various jails, including Calcutta, Madras, and the Cellular Jail. After a failed attempt, he escaped by jumping out of a running train while being transferred from one jail to another.

Later, he became an associate of Chandra Shekhar Azad and reportedly received a Mauser pistol from him. It was reported that he was with Chandra Shekhar Azad just before the British forces surrounded him at Alfred Park on 27 February 1931. Chandra Shekhar Azad asked Prithvi Singh to escape while deciding to continue his battle with the forces. Alternatively, another contention was that the two Azads met at Alfred Park a few days before the death of Chandra Shekhar.

It was Chandra Shekhar who advised Azad to visit Russia for further training. It was reported that the idea to send Azad to Russia actually came from Bhagat Singh, another martyred revolutionary. Chandra Sekhar was conveying Bhagat Singh’s request. Azad spent a few months in Russia before returning to India.

After returning to India, he met several mainstream freedom fighters, including Mohandas Gandhi, and joined the nationalist movement led by Gandhi. Between 1933 and India’s independence in 1947, he was arrested several times, which included the Lahore Conspiracy Case in which he was sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment in the Cellular Jail. He passed away in 1989.