UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Dec 19

19 December 1927

Revolutionaries involved in the Kakori Conspiracy Case were hanged.


What happened?

On 19 December 1927, revolutionary freedom fighters Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’, Ashfaqulla Khan and Thakur Roshan Singh were hanged to death by the British government for their involvement in the Kakori train robbery case.

Background

  • On 9th August 1925, members of the Hindustan Republic Association (HRA) robbed a train at Kakori station near Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
  • The mastermind of the robbery was Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’. The other key players in this audacious attack on the British establishment were Ashfaqulla Khan, Chandrasekhar Azad, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh. Others who took part in the action included Sachindra Bakshi, Manmathnath Gupta, Keshab Chakravarty, Mukundi Lal, Murari Lal and Banwari Lal.
  • HRA was an underground organisation which was involved in revolutionary activity. The purpose of the robbery was to loot the government treasury and acquire funds for buying arms and ammunition required to carry out revolutionary activities. It was believed that the train was carrying government money.
  • As the train was approaching Kakori station, the young men stopped it and overpowered the guards. They then escaped with the loot of Rs.8000. Not one passenger was looted. However, in the scuffle, one passenger was accidentally shot and killed.
  • The event created a storm in the country and many people were inspired by the courage of the revolutionaries to engage in the freedom struggle. It also sent shock waves across the establishment.
  • The administration promptly started a manhunt for the people involved. About 40 people were arrested from various places. The key players were all arrested except Chandrasekhar Azad. Azad later killed himself in a shootout with the police in February 1931.
  • The others who were apprehended were charged with various offences including theft and murder.
  • The trial began in May 1926. The defence counsels were Gobind Ballabh Pant, Mohan Lal Saxena and others. The final verdict saw death sentence being given out to Bismil, Roshan Singh, Ashfaqulla Khan and Lahiri.
  • Two were deported to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair, and others were given jail terms for varying number of years.
  • When they were taken to jail, the prisoners started a hunger strike demanding that they be treated like political prisoners.
  • There was a huge outcry in the country against the verdict of the court. 78 members of the Central Legislative Assembly petitioned to the Viceroy for commuting the death sentence to life terms. Even the Privy Council and the British monarch were appealed to but in vain.
  • Rajendra Lahiri was hanged on 17 December 1927 in the Gonda District Jail two days before schedule.
  • Hanged on 19 December 1927: Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’ at Gorakhpur Jail, Roshan Singh at Naini Allahabad Jail and Ashfaqulla Khan at Faizabad Jail. They were all in their late 20s or early 30s.
  • The martyrs are remembered today as symbols of courage and sacrifice. They placed freedom and patriotism above their own comfort and lives.
Also on this day

1860: Death of Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India between 1848 and 1856. 1934: Birth of India’s first woman president Pratibha Patil. 1961: Liberation of Goa.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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