The Kakori Train Robbery
Kakori is a village near Lucknow. It became famous, because on the evening of August 9, 1925, the Number 8 Down train -- from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow -- was held-up, relieved of about Rs. 8,000, headed for the government treasury, from railway guard's carriage near Kakori. There was one accidental shot fired which killed a passenger.
The robbery was planned by ten revolutionaries at a meeting held in Agra. The ten were: Ramaprasad Bismil, Rajendra Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh, Sachindra Bakshi, Chandrasekhar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy, Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal, Manmathnath Gupta and Ashfaqulla Khan.
The government, shaken up by the daring robbery, swung into action. Arrest warrants were issued against the ten and rewards for their capture were announced. Other arrest warrants were issued for the leaders of Hindustan Republican Association founded by Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chatterjea and Sachindranath Sanyal in 1924 for the armed overthrow of British colonial rule. With the exception of Chandrashekhar Azad all were caught, most of them betrayed by their friends. Azad was trapped later by the police on February 27, 1931. He killed himself, rather than be captured, with revolvers in both hands, after he had exhausted his ammunition in the gun fight with the police.
On the morning of September 26, 1925, Ramaprasad was arrested. Others were caught soon after, except Ashfaqulla Khan and Sachindra Bakshi who eluded the police for almost a year. By that time Kakori case had progressed considerably; so the cases against both Ashfaq and Bakshi were combined and added to the Kakori case.
A committee was formed to defend the accused in the main case. Pandit Motilal Nehru was the chairman. There were others on the committee like Jawaharlal, Sriprakasha, Acharya Narendra Deva, Govind Ballabh Pant and Chandra Bhanu Gupta.
The main case and the complementary case went on for over a year and a half. The Court of Justice under the British rule convicted all, sentencing Ramaprasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh to death; four others to transportation for life to Kala Pani (Andamans) and seventeen others to various long terms of imprisonment.
A strong campaign was organized throughout India to save the lives of these revolutionary heroes. The whole country protested against the death sentences. Members of the Central Legislature represented to the Viceroy that the death sentences should be reduced to life sentences. Appeals were sent to the Privy Council, the highest court in those days. All the leaders of public life appealed to the British Government to show mercy to the condemned men.
But British imperialism was thirsting for the blood of the Indian revolutionaries.
On the 18th of December 1927, Rajendra Lahiri was hanged. Ramaprasad and Ashfaqullah were executed on the 19th and Roshan Singh on the 20th.