Great Kakori train robbery and Indian freedom struggle

Twitter .com

Chandra Shekhar Azad and the Kakori Train Robbery.

Above image:  Chandra Shekhar Azad and his associates executed the Kakori Train Robbery to steal treasury money to buy arms and ammunition to fight the unjust British ............
A majority of  Indians across the Indian subcontinent  were not happy with the corrupt and high-handed  British  administration, first under the East India company's  rule, a sort of De Jure government on behalf of the British Crown and later under the direct control of the British Crown (since 1859). The British Government decided to keep India at any cost because their economy, that was in doldrums for some time, had see vast improvements after the take over of Bengal, Odisha (Orissa) and Bihar (August, 1765) under Robert Clive. In a sense, they had no intention to let off the duck that lays "golden egg." As for Indians and rich Indian Maharajahs and Muslim rulers, during the repressive rule, they were stripped to the bottom almost. The British took them for a ride and each one of the Indian rulers under his very  nose became a sucker/ jack ass.

German made Mauser pistol.

 Above image: German made Mauser pistol. Four Mausers were used during the raid on the train by the Indian freedom fighters led by Chandra. They tried to rob the government money and not the passengers'  .......

In the early part of 20th century, there were numerous protests by well- known patriots  who were treated as scums. Exploitation  of India's  vast resources, racial discrimination, failed negotiations, etc., further aggravated the volatile political situation which became  more explosive. One group of patriots decided to align themselves with enemies of British government to fight for freedom (ex. Nataji Subash Chandra Bose, et al), other group decided to let lose violence against the British (Bagat singh, et al), None of these mavericks felt comfortable with Mahatma Gandhi who wanted to free India without violence and blood shed. Racists like Churchill treated Gandhiji with destine and considered him a half-naked inner-temple lawyer.

Kakori train robbery.

Yet another group of patriots wanted to tread a path not chosen before. That is robbing the trains carrying British  government money - their target was not civilian passengers - to finance their revolutionary activities and buy arms and ammunitionThe Kakori train robbery of August, 1925, carried out by a group of highly motivated, gutsy hardcore Indian freedom fighters,  became a sensational one that grabbed the front page of many daily news papers. No doubt, it attracted the attention of many countries world over. This incident  holds a glorious chapter in the annals of Indian History. 

Kakori train robbery, that took place between Kakori and Alamnagar Railway stations, near Lucknow,U.P  on  9th August, 1925, was carried out by a well trained  Indian patriots with a view to freeing India from the British and their sustained exploitation of Indian population, majority of whom became poor and emancipated. Further, giving independence to India was invariably stalled by the British conservative party politicians. There was no semblance of granting freedom to the Indians because the British thought Indians were not competent enough to manage their own affairs.
Organized by the Hindustan Republican Association - HRA (later became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association),
Kakori train robbery August,

the idea of  train  robbery was first hatched by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan, Indian patriots.  Actually the idea of robbery had three prime objectives: 1. The organization needed financial base to carry out revolutionary activities against the British government, so they decided to loot only the government  money, etc., 2. Indian passengers were not their targets  and their intention was to prove that the robbery was  part of freedom struggle and the stigma cast on them by the wily British was nothing but false propaganda. 3. Robbing British government money was a way of terrorizing the foreign invaders who had been robbing Indians since their arrival in India in 1600s.   

The robbery took place on the Number 8 down train that was supposed to carry treasury money in the Guard's cabin from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow. When the train was approaching   the town of Kakori (now in Uttar Pradesh), one of the revolutionaries pulled the  emergency chain to stop the train and overpowered the guard. They successfully looted the treasury money about Rs. 8000.00 from the vault in Guard's cabin. On completion of the mission, they headed to Lucknow and split. Unfortunately a civilian passenger was killed by accident  in the cross fire. The mission was carried out by such patriots like Rajendra  Lahiri,  Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra, et al besides Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan in association with others.

Kakori railway  station, Uttar Predesh.

In the wake up of this daring robbery,  British Indian government's  sleuths went after the supposed robbers because a murder of civil passenger of the train  had been  committed. At last after tailing numerous suspicious characters,  finally they threw the dragnet on some of them. Following the arrest of group captain Ram Prasad Bismil  at Saharanpur on 26 September, 1925, and  his  lieutenant Ashfaqullah Khan ten months later at Delhi, the detectives shook  the kaleidoscope and  saw a striking strange  pattern emerging, they were in for a surprise. In this historical case they found out that as many as 40 plus  people were involved in this secret operation. They arrested the suspected members of the revolutionary group  from Agra, Allahabad, Banaras, Bengal, Shahjahanpur and other places.

In the following trail, 15 suspects were let off on account of lack of adequate evidence by the Magistrate court  headed by  special Magistrate  Syed Alinuddin with the help of Dy. S.P. (C.I.D.) Khan Bahadur Tasadduk Husain. With Magistrate's acceptance of   Banarsi Lal and Indu Bhushan Mitra as  approvers (prosecution witnesses),  final case against 28 accused  began on   21 May, 1926 in the special session court of A. Hamilton.  Recaptured absconder Ashfaqullah Khan refused to become an approver/ prosecution witness. One Jagat Narayan Mulla was the public Prosecutor and Ram Prasad Bismil defended his case himself. The defense committee was chaired by  Gobind Ballabh Pant (who became a union minister under PM Nehru in the 1950s). 

At last, after hearing prosecution witnesses, etc., the final verdict was handed down by the court.  Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Roshan Singh, were sentenced to death by the Court of Justice because of their active involvement right from the beginning of their secret organization. The Court also found 14 others, who acted in collusion with the chief members, guilty and were sentenced to 3 to 14 years.  depending on the severity of their crime. In this case, some of the accused  were  literally dragged out of jail to come to the court  subjecting them  to duress.

The accused were sent to different jails and were forced to wear jail uniform, they objected to it and  went on hunger strike. They  wanted the government to treat them as political prisoners and give jail facilities accordingly  and not as criminals. The legal deafense  for the arrested revolutionaries was provided by Gobind Ballabh Pant and others. Their genuine case was defended by numerous eminent people and lawyers. They included   Motilal Nehru (father of Pandit Nehru), Madan Mohan Malviya (founder of Banares Hindu Univesity), Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), Lala Lajpat Rai (a prominent minister after independence), Jawaharlal Nehru (first PM of Republic of India) and others.

Final mercy petition,  sent to  Privy Council in London on 16 September,
1927 through  a well-known British lawyer  S.L. Polak having been turned down, the government sent the final orders  that all the four condemned prisoners were to be hanged till death by 19 December, 1927 positively.

As for patriot Chandrasekhar Azad, he reorganized the HRA in 1928, but unfortunately shot himself on 27 February, 1931 at Chandrasekhar Azad Park, Allahabad, UP.

Thus these daring young people with patriotic zeal could not achieve what they aspired for - freedom from the British. However, their daring train robbery to lay hands on the government money, may not be right approach to gain freedom. But, the publicity bonanza created by them had a severe impact on the justification of British government's  rights to hold the reins against a sea of humanity that hated them and wanted them to leave the Indian shores as early as possible.