The nephew of revolutionary freedom fighter, Chandrasekhar Azad, Sujit Azad, has recently claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru had provided British specific information about his whereabouts which helped them accost him leading to his martyrdom . Sujit Azad also contends that Azad had handed over HSRA funds to Nehru hoping to free Bhagat Singh in exchange; Nehru received the funds but did not deliver. Given the statures of both Nehru and Azad, the contention is startling, to say the least. But, surprisingly Azad’s claim received almost no coverage in mainstream media. Yet, the claim even if true would be consistent with the long record of collaboration between top Indian National Congress leaders with the colonial occupiers they were claiming to fight, the British. Gandhi had regularly received "confidential" information from the British, who even shared secret files on then Congress president Subhas Bose’s movements with him . Patel and Nehru had betrayed the naval mutineers of Mumbai 1946 in collusion with the British . The government of India under Nehru had spied on Subhas Bose’s kin and had even shared such intelligence information with British intelligence post the transfer of power in 1947 . Nehru is also suspected of complicity in the disappearance of the INA treasures . It is, therefore, imperative that the allegations of Sujit Azad be investigated with utmost gravity.
Following up on Sujit Azad’s claim, we present our findings from primary sources and available documentations on the interaction between Nehru and Azad. We can incontrovertibly establish that Nehru revealed strong animosity against Azad to the extent that he denigrated him through dubious and likely fraudulent contentions. Nehru also used the public empathy for Azad’s organisation for his own political furtherance only to engage in exercises to push them into oblivion when the opportunity arose, consistent with the wishes of the highest echelons of the British government. It also emerges that British intelligence sources have mentioned that they had access to a highly placed source hailing from Allahabad (Nehru’s ancestral source) who had helped them infiltrate AICC (All India Congress Committee). The source was not named in the documentation we could access, but it would become evident that great care was taken to preserve his identity.
Nehru has confirmed in his autobiography that Chandrasekhar Azad had come to meet him in his residence in Allahabad in early 1931 before the Gandhi-Irwin negotiations commenced: "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." pp. 261-262, .
|Jawaharlal Nehru (left); Chandrasekhar Azad.|
There are multiple inconsistencies between Nehru’s accounts and contemporary politics as narrations by others.
The inconsistencies and distortions in the above reveal a subtle, or perhaps a not-so-subtle, attempt to denigrate the conviction and valour of the revolutionaries in general and Azad in particular. This attempt may be magnanimously attributed to a guilty conscience in Nehru, assuming he had one. Nehru was an integral part of the discussions that led to the Gandhi-Irwin pact, which excluded revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh (then waiting for execution of the death sentence on him) from its ambit, and thereby sent them straight to the gallows. Quoting Manmathanath Gupta, "It was expected of Jawaharlal, who passed as a youth leader, that he would put pressure on Gandhi in this matter [on forcing the British to release or commute the execution sentence for Bhagat Singh while he was negotiating the Gandhi-Irwin pact]. We inside the prison expected that Jawaharlal would advise Gandhi to break with the viceroy, but he did nothing of the sort. I agree with [Subhas Chandra] Bose, who wrote [in p. 222, ] "the responsibility of Pandit Nehru is very great. Besides being the president of the Indian National Congress, he was the only member of the Working Commmittee who could be expected to understand and advocate the left-wing point of view and his refusal would have been sufficient to prevent the final acceptance of the pact by Gandhi and the Working Committee. Unfortunately, he gave in and so the Pact was approved by the Working Committee and the next day, March 5, the Mahatma put his signature to it. When the publication of the Pact created an uproar in the country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru came out with the statement that he did not approve of some of the terms – but as an obedient soldier, he had to submit to the leader. But the country had regarded him as something more than an obedient soldier" p. 325, , . Gandhi-Irwin pact was considered a betrayal by a large section of Indians, and Gandhi had to face vociferous public dissent and black flags after Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged. The seasoned political player in Nehru would not want to remind his readers of his complicity in the hanging of Bhagat Singh by acknowledging that Azad sought his intervention to save Bhagat Singh; he may also have sought to delegitimise the revolutionaries like Azad (and Bhagat Singh by association, though not directly as he was far too popular around the time Nehru wrote his book) through subtle denigration.
Nehru’s animosity against Azad may be driven in part by the charges Azad levied on Nehru in their above confirmed meeting. Satyanarayan Sharma has written that when Azad asked Nehru if Gandhi would speak to Irwin about annulling the death sentence on his three comrades (Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru), Nehru had responded that he was unable to answer his question as at that point Gandhi was not inclined to act in any way in the interests of the revolutionaries. Azad had then angrily retorted that that was grave injustice to patriots like them. His three comrades are going to be hung to death. They have received nothing but rejection from Nehru and his ilk. Nehru and his ilk were also subjected to arrests like the revolutionaries, but the former would inevitably be released while the latter would be hanged to death. The conversation ended with Nehru saying he did not have any answer to the question Azad had posed pp. 125-126 .
Nonetheless, it is intriguing to note that the only part of the description where Nehru was specific was that he was in Delhi when he received news of Azad’s death in Allahabad. On wonders if this specificity among all the vague generalities owes to an attempt to disassociate from talks to the effect that Nehru had passed on information about Azad to police – if so it would at least indicate that Azad’s descendants have only said out what many at that time had believed to be true and deserves investigation.
We now show how Nehru and his key aide Pant reaped political mileage out of the plight of the comrades of Azad, only to seek to push them into oblivion at a convenient time, as the latter part was consistent with the wishes of the highest echelon of the British government. Revolutionaries sentenced to prison terms due to participation in the Kakori dacoity in 1925 were released in 1937. We learn the following from a letter written on August 26, 1937 by Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary, Mahadev Desai, to GD Birla: "You know the Kakori Dacoity prisoners, who were convicted some years ago of the most violent and unpardonable crimes. Pantji [GB Pant] has released them all. It is a feather both in his cap and that of Haig [Governor of the United Provinces] who might well have objected to their release. But the moment their release was announced, our idiotic Congress makes an announcement of taking these people out in procession. Poor Pantji was absolutely at sea. He was persuaded to be firm. He made it clear that if they persisted it would not be possible for him to do any such thing in future. Jawaharlal did not give any encouragement to the Congress enthusiasts. And so everything ended well’’ p. 206, . So, GB Pant, who led the defence, and Nehru, who publicly offered support, privately sought to prevent a procession in honour of the revolutionaries; they did not however, succeed in preventing the public processions and the felicitations despite their best attempts. As Jogesh Chandra Chatterji, who was one of the Kakori dacoity prisoners released in the occasion has written, "Despite the strict directive of Nehru that there should not be any demonstration and despite the drizzling rains the whole day, thousands gathered before the Naini jail on hearing the news of the release of Kakori prisoners. We were brought to Allahabad in a procession and there was a public meeting at Purushottam Das Park that evening. The next day we were given receptions in the Ward Congress Committee and from 3pm till dusk we were in the Anand Bhawan with Jawaharlal Nehru. For two and a half hours, we were closeted with Nehru in a hall on the first floor and his sister, Mrs Vijay Laksmi Pandit, was sitting by his side all along…. Then we came downstairs and there was a grand tea party to which all the notable Congress leaders of Allahabad were invited…. When Nehru started criticising the revolutionaries adversely he was openly questioned as to why he himself gave a tea party in Anand Bhawan to the released Kakori prisoners. As a reply to this, he gave a public statement that there was no party. Some of the prisoners were known to him, they came to his place and he gave them tea. The readers are only to judge whether the function was like that or it was at an attempt at belittling it" pp. 490-500, . Chatterji has described the desperate attempts by Nehru and Pant to stop the processions and felicitations: "In the meantime, telephonic talks were going on between Nehru and Pant, the chief minister. The people of Kanpur and Lucknow, too, were preparing for our reception but these two leaders were nervous about it. Their apprehension was that if too much importance was given to us, the revolutionaries, their absolute leadership may be in jeopardy in the long run.. Nehru phoned to Balkrishna Sarma, the president of City Congress Committee at Kanpur that there should be no demonstration.. Sharmaji said there would be a big demonstration even without the Congress participating in it. Congress and Sharmaji himself would only be condemned by the public. So he and the Congress could not keep aloof in such a matter. Pant sent for him; but he sent a friend and himself remained at Kanpur to receive us. The Kanpur demonstration was unique in the whole history of Kanpur. The whole city welcomed the released men with open arms. Balkrishnaji himself led the crowd at the Railway Station and he was with them very where. The procession and the meting at parade grounds was huge. More than a lakh of people attended the meeting. Next day the reception in the morning by Ward Congress Committees, the reception by the Municipal Board, the Congress Workers’ meeting at the Tilak Hall and the labour meting at Goaltuli were of the same type as of the previous day. The Governor was upset at this. The second day he went to Kanpur and sent for the Congress leaders at the Circuit House, and asked them if a revolution was going to take place. The leaders impressed on him that there was no question of any revolution…. Lucknow, too, did not lag behind in the demonstrations. Huge crowds waited at the Railway station under the leadership of CB Gupta, the then President of City Congress Committee. Here, too, the procession and the meeting at Aminuddaula Park were unexpectedly big. …The meeting at Chowk the next day was also very big, though it was spoiled by heavy showers of rain. The University students of Lucknow gave us a very hearty welcome the next day. The gathering was fairly big" pp. 490-493 .
Nehru’s daughter and political successor (albeit not immediate) had rewarded Yashpal, a key comrade who had betrayed Azad. Sukhdev’s brother Thapar has alleged that Yashpal was a police informer: "He used to gather all information from Jai Gopal and then pass it on to the police. Though now dead a few years, he is fondly remembered by his admirers as a great revolutionary and a Hindi writer of no mean significance." . In his autobiography, Yashpal has indeed confirmed that HSRA (the revolutionary party led by Azad) central committee had issued an order for shooting him dead believing him as likely to betray the party; p. 77, . Yashpal had attributed the decision to resentment against his romantic relationship with a woman member of HSRA. It is pertinent to note that Yashpal, who by his own account was supposedly a top leader of HSRA, was neither executed like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad nor incarcerated under trying circumstances like in Cellular jail as another leader, Sachindranath Sanyal, was. Furthermore, while most revolutionaries were severely persecuted in jails, Yashpal was treated exceedingly well in British jails. He was sent from the jail to a sanatorium to recover his health (in contrast Sanyal was moved from Cellular to Gorakhpur only at the terminal stage of tuberculosis) p. 85, . Yashpal was also allowed to marry while serving his jail sentence, the first ever in the history of Indian jail, and a British deputy commissioner performed the civil ceremony p. 86, . A new section was subsequently added in the Indian Penal Code to prevent such ceremonies for prisoners. But the clinching evidence that Yashpal was a police informer was provided by Dharmendra Gaud, director of intelligence in British Indian administration. Based on the intelligence files he could access in his professional capacity, he had named Yashpal as one of the men who passed on information about Azad’s whereabouts on the day of the fateful encounter . In addition, Gaud had produced the following intelligence correspondence in his book (p. 195, ) written by FR Stockwell, SPSD to Central Intelligence Officer, E Walsh, IP, on March 10, 1947: "We have three most important sources in the RSPI/CPI, Muslim League and the AICC. They are being handled separately by the senior officers of this branch. Yashpal, the defunct HSRA leader, who covers both the RSPI and the CPI, is being handed over to you by Nasir Khan in the first instance. Yashpal’s brief history is as under for your immediate guidance: he's a Punjabi Hindu from Ferosepore. Age 44 years in 1947. Got early education in Western UP and then post-matric at Lahore, where he came in contact with the revolutionaries and terrorists. Casually supplied valuable information to the department in 1930-31. Imprisonment: 1932-38. Was again won over in 1941 and got several CPI and other absconders arrested with arms and ammunition, printing machines and objectionable literature. Is a loyal and faithful fellow. The other two hail from Saharanpur and Allahabad respectively. They may take some more time"; p. 195, . Yashpal was never investigated in free India for treason. He was instead allowed to flourish in a literary career, and was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1976 and a Sahitya academy award in 1970 – a bulk of such awardees were Nehru-Gandhi family loyalists. Equally pertinent, the identity of the "most important" source who hailed from Allahabad and covered AICC (consider the sequence of presentation) was guarded in the above correspondence. Justice demands that India identifies the concerned individual and tries him for treason even posthumously.
 Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj: Why British disliked Netaji and made a Mahatma out of Gandhi http://www.dailyo.in/politics/the-gandhi-bose-interaction-personality-cult-money-power-foreign-influence-divisive-politics/story/1/3967.html
 Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj: How Gandhi, Patel and Nehru colluded with Brits to suppress Naval Mutiny of 1946 http://www.dailyo.in/politics/how-gandhi-patel-and-nehru-colluded-with-the-british-to-suppress-the-naval-mutiny-of-1946/story/1/5567.html
 Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj, Mahatma Gandhi's war on Indian revolutionaries http://www.dailyo.in/politics/mahatma-gandhis-war-on-the-indian-revolutionaries-british-nehru-mountbatten-sardar-patel/story/1/5359.html
 Treachery and the INA treasure http://www.missionnetaji.org/article/treachery-and-the-ina-treasure
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 Exclusive: New document shows the Intelligence Bureau informed the British spy agency about Subhas Chandra Bose family snooping
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 G D Birla, In the Shadow of the Mahatma
 Dharmndra Gaur, Pandit Satyanarayan Sharma: 'Chandrasekhar Azad and his two traitor comrades'
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 Corinne Friend, 'Yashpal: Fighter for Freedom, Writer for Justice'; Journal of South Asian Literature, Vol. 13, No. 1/4, pp. 65-90
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 J B Kripalani: Gandhi His Life and Thought
 Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: India Wins Freedom
 Rajmohan Gandhi: Patel, A Life