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The Kakori conspiracy (or Kakori train robbery or Kakori case) was a train robbery that took place at Kakori, near Lucknow, on 9 august 1925. This ‘Robbery’ was organised by the Hindustan Republican Association (later was named as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association).
It was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rrajendra Lahiri, Roshan Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Manmathnath Gupta, Murari Lal Gupta, Mukundi Lal and Banwari Lal.
The British rulers secured the death penalty for Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Roshan Singh courtesy a kangaroo court trial on July 18, 1927. Three of them, Roshan Singh (hanged at Naini Jail, Allahabad), Ashfaqullah Khan (hanged at Faizabad Jail) and Ram Prasad Bismil (Hanged at Gorakhpur Jail) on the same day on 19 December 1927. Rajendra Lahiri was hanged at Gonda Jail on December 17, 1927, two days before the scheduled date.
The British government and its Indian lackeys propagated that these martyrs and their comrades who took possession of the British Government treasury being transported in Kakori Mail, near Kakori on August 9, 1925 were simply romantic, hot-headed, adventure loving young men who loved guns and fire-arms. They were referred to as terrorists. It is far from truth. On the contrary, these revolutionaries were highly politicized and aware of the fact that the goal of overthrowing the British imperialist rule in India could not be achieved till the people of India discarding their religious bickering did not unite. They were led by a genuine urge to liberate India from the repressive colonial rule but with mass involvement. Unfortunately, generations after Independence, we remain ignorant of their writings and ideological stands.
Let’s know what the contemporary documents tell us about these young men who laid down their lives for the liberation of India.
(1) British treasury robbed not for buying arms but establishing a printing press for literature
This revolutionary group waylaid the British Government treasury at Kakori and captured the same not for purchasing/manufacturing arms and ammunition but for publishing Socialist literature to be circulated among youth, peasantry and workers so that they are politicized and rise in revolt. It shows this group had passed the stage of terrorism and matured into a revolutionary political group which believed in involving larger masses in the struggle to overthrow British rule.
(2) For a Socialist India
They knew that to overthrow the British rule was a serious task and needed ideological clarity. With this aim they worked tirelessly and formed Hindustan Republican Association/Army [HRA] whose manifesto ‘Revolutionary’ was produced as a proof by the prosecution in the Kakori Case. Even after the martyrdom of these revolutionaries in 1927, other revolutionary leaders like Bhagat Singh and Chandershekhar Azad continued with this effort. The conversion of HRA into ‘Hindustan Socialist Republican Army’ in a secret meeting at Ferozshah Kotla on September 8-9, 1928 gave a clear-cut Communist direction to the revolutionary movement.
In fact, this direction was quite notable in Ashfaqullah Khan’s ‘Message to Countrymen’ which he smuggled out of Faizabad Jail few days prior to his martyrdom on December 19, 1927. He made his socialist commitment very clear when addressing to the Communists of India he wrote:
“I am greatly in agreement with you and want to tell you that my heart always weeps for the poor peasants and helpless workers. While on the run I stayed with them and after seeing their condition I often wept…This is absolutely true that whatever they grow or produce, they have no share, they always remain sad and in bad shape. I do agree that for all these things our white Masters and their agents are responsible…I have deep regards for you in my heart and while dying, I fully agree with your political aims. I want that kind of freedom for Hindustan where poor should live happily and with ease. I pray to God that after my death, that day should come at the earliest when Abdullah mechanic of loco workshop, Dhaniya cobbler and common peasants are seen sitting on chairs in front of Mr. Khaliq-uz-Zaman, Jagat Narain Mulla and Raja Saheb Mehmoodabad in Lucknow’s Chhaatter Manzil. My comrades, my revolutionary brothers—what I can tell you and what I can write to you, it will be a matter of great pride to you when you will hear that one of your brothers went to the gallows smiling and was happy while dying. I know very well about the spirit which your group has and I was proud of it, and now I am more proud that I am dying as a true revolutionary.”
(3) Anti-people rule survives by dividing people on religious lines
The Kakori martyrs were highly concerned about the damage communal polarization was going to cause to the anti-British struggle. It was their firm opinion that communal divide will only help the British rulers. Ashfaqullah Khan’s ‘Message to Countrymen’, in fact, expressed their collective opinion regarding the game communal forces were playing in league with the British masters, he wrote:
“Oh! How can we appreciate the present-day life when our political leadership is going through internal strife? If one is fond of Tableegh [the propagation of Islam] the other believes that dying for Shuddhi only will lead to emancipation. Government secret service agents finance the spread of religious propaganda. Their aim is not to defend religion or help it to flourish but to create obstacles in the path of the moving train [of the freedom struggle].”
While pouring out his heart for his countrymen both Hindus and Muslims he went on to warn them:
“Brothers! Your civil war, your internal bickering will not be useful for any of you. This is impossible that 7 crores Muslims can be converted to Hinduism [through Shuddhi] and likewise it is futile to believe that 22 crores Hindus can be turned into Muslims. However, [if they continue fighting with each other] it is easy and very easy that all of them together will continue to be in chains.”
The Kakori martyrs belonging to different religions and regions expressed these words of wisdom when foreign rulers had India under their Iron Heel. They could rule India by putting one religious community against the other; institutionalized as Divide and Rule. Sadly, almost seven decades after the birth of a democratic-secular India, the polity has been taken over by RSS/BJP rulers who are using every evil tool in the armoury of the Hindutva fascism to divide India along religious lines. The new Citizen Amendment Act 2019 and war cries for introducing National Register of Citizens will put to shame even the British masters who ruled India once. All those who want to save India from the Hindutva juggernaut must come out on streets, holding photographs of these martyrs in hands and their words of caution and unity on the lips.