Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ramprasad Bismil

Ramprasad Bismil was a brave revolutionary who gave up his life smilingly for the sake of the Motherland. He was persecuted by an enraged foreign government, hunted by the police and betrayed by follow workers. And yet he lit the fire of revolution to burn down the slavery. He was the brave leader of the Kakori Rail Dacoit episode. His poetry is also a lamp lighted at the altar of the Mother land. Kakori is a village near Lucknow. It became famous, because the attack on the train took place near by.

It was the evening of the 9th of August 1925; the number eight down train was passing near Kakori. Ramaprasad and his nine revolutionary followers pulled the chain and stopped it. They looted the money belonging to the government, deposited in the Guard's carriage. Excepting that one passenger was killed by an accidental shot, there was no Bloodshed. This extremely well planned dacoit jolted the government. After a month of detailed preliminary inquiries and elaborate preparations the government cast its net wide for the revolutionaries. Arrest warrants were issued not only against the ten participants but also against other leaders of the Hindusthan Republican Association. With the lone exception of Chandrashekhar Azad, all participants were caught.

The case went on for over a year and a half, Ramaprasad, Ashfaqullah Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri all four were sentenced to death, A strong campaign was organized throughout India to save the lives of these revolutionary heroes. All the leaders of public life appealed to the British Government to show mercy to the condemned men. But the Government was unyielding. It was the 18th of December 1927. A middle-aged lady was waiting at the main gates of the Gorakhpur Central Jail. Her face was radiant but anxiety was writ large on it. She was eagerly waiting to be called into the prison. By that time her husband also arrived there. He was surprised that his wife was there before him. He also sat down to wait for the call.
Another young man came there. He was not related to them. He knew that the couple would be permitted to enter the prison. But how could he manage to enter? This was his problem.
The officials of the prison called in the husband and the wife. The young man followed them. The guard stopped him and rudely asked, "Who are you?"
"Permit him also, brother. He is my sister's son", the lady said in an entreating voice.The guard relented.
All the three entered the prison to visit a freedom fighter that was to face his death on the morrow.The freedom fighter was brought there in chains. They were like ornaments on him. This was the last time that he could see his mother, the last time he could address her as 'Mother'. At this thought grief welled up in him. He stood speechless and tears rolled down his cheeks.
In a firm voice the mother said, 'What is this, my son? I had thought of my son as a great hero. I was thinking that the British Government would shiver at the very mention of his name. I never thought that my son would be afraid of death. If you can die only in this way, weeping, why did you take up such activities?"
The officials were astounded at the firmness of the mother. The freedom fighter replied, "Mother dear, these are not tears of fear - the fear of death. These are tears of joy - joy at beholding so brave as mother!"
The brave son of that brave mother was Ramaprasad Bismil. He was the leader of the famous Kakori Rail Dacoity case.The last meeting ended. Next morning Ramaprasad got up earlier than usual, bathed and said his morning prayers. He wrote his last letter to his mother. Then he sat down with a calm mind awaiting his death.

The officials came and removed his chains. They took him from the prison cell-towards his death. He was completely untroubled and walked like a hero. The officials were amazed. As he moved to the gallows he joyfully chanted Vande Matharam' and 'Bharath Matha ki Jai'. At the top of his voice he shouted down with the British Empire." Then he calmly recited prayers like 'Vishwani deva savithaha dunithani.... And embraced death.

As he was being executed, there was a strong guard around the prison. When he was dead the officials brought out the dead body. Not only his parents but also hundreds of his countrymen were waiting in tears. The people of Gorakhpur deco rated the body of the brave son of Bharath as befitted a hero and carried it in a procession. Flowers were showered on the body, and the last rites were performed.

Ramaprasad Bismil joined the select band of martyrs who dreamt of a free India and made the supreme sacrifice, so that the dream might come true.

'Bismil' is the penname of Ramaprasad. As 'Bismil' he is well known as a great revolutionary poet in Hindi. At the end of his autobiography, he has reproduced some selected poems. Every line of his poems throbs with patriotic fervor.

In one poem he prays: 'Even if I have to face death a thousand times for the sake of my Motherland, I shall not be sorry. Oh Lord! Grant me a hundred births in Bharat. But grant me this, too, that each time I may give up my life in the service of the Mother land.'

In a poem written just before going to the gallows, he prays: 'Oh Lord! Thy will be done. You are unique. Neither my tears nor I will endure. Grant me this boon, that to my last breath and the last drop of my blood, I may think of you and be immersed in your work.'

Thursday, December 14, 2006


To start with I will start with Ashfaqulla Khan. I know most of you might have not heard about him. But if I say his character was played by Kunal Kapoor in Rang De Basanti You will remember. Right got him


Ashfaqulla Khan was one of the greatest martyrs who laid down their lives for the emancipation of the country. By his unique sacrifice, Ashfaqulla Khan became an immortal revolutionary.
Born in the early part of the 20th century in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Ashfaqulla Khan was the son of Shafiqulla Khan. In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi had called on Indians not to pay taxes to the government or cooperate with the British. This non-cooperation movement kindled the fire of freedom in the hearts of all Indians. However, Chauri Chaura violence which resulted into setting ablaze of a police station and death of some policemen, Mahatma Gandhi called off the non-cooperation movement in February, 1922. The youth of the country were greatly disappointed and they resolved that the country should become free as early as possible. Ashfqulla Khan joined the band of such revolutionaries. Ramaprasad Bismil who also hailed from Shahjahanpur was the leader of the militant group of these revolutionaries. Ashfaqulla Khan cultivated friendship with Ramaprasad Bismil. Ramaprasad was a Aryasmajist whereas Ashfaqulla Khan was a devout Muslim. Their religion however, did not come in the way of their firm resolve to join together for the freedom struggle.
The two became bosom friends. So much so that they moved together, ate together and worked together. An incident in this connection is worth mentioning. Once Ashfaq had severe fever and under the very high temperature he was muttering Ram, my dear Ram. Ashfaq’s parents got perturbed and thought Ashfaq had been overpowered by some evil spirit since he was uttering the name of Ram, the Lord of Hindus. They called their neighbour. The neighbour assured them explaining that Ashfaq was remembering Ram Prasad Bismil, his friend whom he is in the habit of addressing as Ram. Bismal was called. Asfaq’s muttering came to a stop and both embraced each other.
Varanasi was the centre of their activities. They formed the Hindustan Republican Association. Shachindra Nath Sanyal was the founder of this organization. Their objective was to win freedom for the country through armed revolution. The association published a manifesto called Krantikari in 1925 advocating the elimination of inequality and slavery. For the purpose of carrying out the revolution, they needed money. The famous Kakori train robbery was conceived with the objective of getting money for carrying out their revolutionary activities. The train robbery was conceived by Ramaprasad. While traveling from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, he noticed moneybags being taken into the guard’s van and being dropped into an iron safe. Ashfaq opposed the idea saying that it would be a hasty step and will expose the revolutionaries to direct attack by strong government who will use the entire machinery to crush the revolutionary activities. However, the revolutionaries decided to go ahead with the plan. Like a disciplined soldier, Ashfaq vowed to join.
On August 9, 1925, the train from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow was approaching Kakori. Some one pulled the chain and the train stopped abruptly. Ashfaq got off the second class compartment with his friends Sachindra Bakshi and Rajendra Lahiri. The two revolutionaries fell on the guard and made him lie down on his face. Ashfaq was the strongest of the group. He entered the guard’s van and pushed the bags containing money to the ground. He dealt blows after blows on the opening of the box to widen it and to take the moneybags out. The group consisting of ten young revolutionaries took the money and fled. Till about a month, none of the revolutionaries was arrested. But the government had spread a big net.
On 26th September 1925 Ramaprasad Bismil was arrested. Ashfaq escaped from his home and hid in a sugarcane field. Later, he managed to reach Kashi and stayed for some time in Banaras University. With the help of his friends he went to Bihar and got a job as a clerk in an engineering firm at Daltonganj. Later, he went to Delhi with a plan to go abroad. In Delhi, he met a Pathan friend who also hailed from Shahjahanpur and was a classmate of Ashfaq. Falling for greed of money which the British Government had announced on Ashfaq’s head, the Pathan sounded the police and next morning Ashfaq was arrested. The police charge sheeted him in the court.
During the Court proceedings the Superintendent of Police who was a Muslim went to Ashfaq’s jail room and tried to break him from the revolutionaries. The S.P. said: "Ashfaq, I am also Muslim. I am very sorry for your arrest. I can have you released if you accept my advice. You become Government approver and give testimony against Ram Prasad Bismil. He is a Hindu and wants to establish the rule of Hindus. You should not be with him". Ashfaq got enraged to hear the words of the Muslim S.P. and retorted. "I warn you, never utter such unholy words from your mouth. Ram Prasad is my brother. I would rather die under the rule of Hindus than to live under the British rule".
A committee consisting of eminent lawyers like Moti Lal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sriprakasha, Acharya Narendra Dev, Govind Ballabh Pant and Chandra Bhanu Gupta was formed to defend the revolutionaries in the Kakori train robbery case. Their effort to save the revolutionaries, however, failed in the court of justice under the British rule, which sentenced to death Ramaprasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh. The others were given life sentences.
The whole country protested against the death sentences. Petitions were made to the Viceroy to reduce their death sentence into life sentences. Even the Privy Council was approached. The British imperialism was however, thirsting for the blood of the Indian revolutionaries.
On 19th December 1927, Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged to death at district jail, Faizabad. When Ashfaq was brought to gallows he said, "My hands are not soiled with the murder of man, God will give me justice. He then prayed to the almighty and went down the plank on which he stood after the hangman’s noose came around his neck.
Ashfaq’s devotion to the cause of freedom made him the foremost among those who gave their lives to win the freedom of the country. Love for the motherland, clear thinking, courage, firmness and loyalty were embodied in Ashfaq to the hilt. He deserves to be remembered and cherished by all Indians for his noble qualities.

Jai Hind