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The Kakori Conspiracy (or Kakori train robbery) was a train robbery that took place at Kakori, a village near Lucknow, on 9 August 1925 during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Raj. The robbery was organised by Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).
The robbery was conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to the HRA, which later became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. This organisation was established to carry out revolutionary activities against the British Empire in India with the objective of achieving independence. Since the organisation needed money for purchase of weaponry, Bismil and his party decided to plunder a train on one of the Northern Railway lines. The robbery plan was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Manmathnath Gupta, Mukundi Lal (Mukundi Lal Gupta), Murari Lal Gupta and Banwari Lal. One passenger was killed unintentionally.
On 9 August 1925, the Number 8 Down Train travelling from Saharanpur to Lucknow  was approaching the town of Kakori (now in Uttar Pradesh), when Rajendra Lahiri pulled the emergency chain to stop the train and subsequently overpowered the guard. It is believed that they looted that specific train because it was supposedly carrying the money bags which allegedly belonged to the Indians and was being transferred to the British government treasury. They looted only these bags (which were present in the guards' cabin and contained about ₹ 8000) and escaped to Lucknow. The objectives of this robbery were to :
- Fund the HRA with funds stolen from the British administration.
- Garner public attention by creating a positive image of the HRA among Indians.
One lawyer, Ahmad Ali, who was a passenger, had got down to see his wife in the ladies compartment and was killed in an unintentional discharge by Manmathnath Gupta, but this made it a manslaughter case. Following the incident, the British administration started an intense manhunt and arrested several of the revolutionaries who were members or part of the HRA. Their leader, Ram Prasad Bismil, was arrested at Saharanpur on 26 September 1925, and his lieutenant, Ashfaqullah Khan, was arrested on 17 July 1926 at Delhi.
Forty people were arrested from all over India. Their names (with the place of arrest) are:
- From Agra
- Chandra Dhar Johri
- Chandra Bhal Johri
- From Allahabad
- Shitala Sahai
- Jyoti Shankar Dixit
- Bhupendra Nath Sanyal
- From Banaras
- Manmathnath Gupta
- Damodar Swarup Seth
- Ram Nath Pandey
- Dev Dutt Bhattacharya
- Indra Vikram Singh
- Mukundi Lal
- From Bengal
- From Etah
- Babu Ram Verma
- From Hardoi
- Bhairon Singh
- From Jubbulpore
- Pranawesh Chatterjee
- From Kanpur
- Ram Dulare Trivedi
- Gopi Mohan
- Raj Kumar Sinha
- Suresh Charan Bhattacharya
- From Lahore
- Mohan Lal Gautam
- From Lakhimpur
- Harnam Sundarlal
- From Lucknow
- Govind Charan Kar
- Shachindra Nath Vishvas
- From Meerut
- Vishnu Sharan Dublish
- From Orai
- Veer Bhadra Tiwari
- From Pune
- Ram Krishna Khatri
- From Raibareli
- Banwari Lal
- From Saharanpur
- From Shahjahanpur
Of the above, Sachindranath Sanyal, Rajendra Lahiri and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee had already been arrested in Bengal. Lahiri was prosecuted in a Dakshineshwar bombing case, while Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindranath Bakshi were arrested later when the main Kakori conspiracy case was over. A supplementary case was filed against these two and they were prosecuted in the same manner.
Ram Prasad Bismil and some others were charged with various offences, including robbery and murder. Fourteen people had been released due to lack of evidence. Two of the accused — Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindra Bakshi—were captured after the trial. Chandrasekhar Azad, reorganised the HRA in 1928 and operated it till 27 February 1931, committing suicide during a standoff with police.
Charges pressed against further three men were dropped. Damodar Swarup Seth was discharged due to illness, while Veer Bhadra Tiwari & Jyoti Shankar Dixit have been suspected of providing information to the authorities. Two other individuals - Banarsi Lal and Indu Bhushan Mitra came to be approvers in return for a lenient sentence.
Charges against 19 of the accused were withdrawn (2 had become approvers while 17 people had been released). The trial against the remaining 21 began on 1 May 1926 in the Special Sessions Court of Justice Andrews Hamilton. Abbas Salim Khan, Banwari Lal Bhargava, Gyan Chattarjee and Mohammed Ayuf were the assessors of the case. Of the 21, two people namely Sachindranath Biswas and Lala Hargovind were released due to lack of evidence, while Gopi Mohan became an approver.
The court appointed Jagat Narayan Mulla as public prosecutor knowingly; he had been prejudiced against Ram Prasad Bismil since 1916, when Bismil led the grand procession of Bal Gangadhar Tilak at Lucknow. He had also been the public prosecutor in the Mainpuri conspiracy case of 1918.
The government officers had also bribed many of the accused to become government approvers. The trials were mainly based on the statements given by Banwari Lal who had met the revolutionaries and also involved in the planning the robbery activities taken up by group in Bamrauli (25 December 1924), Bichpuri (7 March 1925) & Dwarikapur (24 May 1925). So, his statement was used as the main evidence to prove the HRA members guilty.
The judgement case trials of the Sessions Court was pronounced on 6 April 1927-
Ram Prasad Bismil, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri were sentenced to hanging. Sachindranath Sanyal was given life imprisonment. Manmathnath Gupta was sentenced to 14 yrs imprisonment. Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee, Govind Charan Kar, Raj Kumar Sinha, Ram Krishna Khatri and Mukundi Lal were sentenced to 10 yrs imprisonment while Suresh Charan Bhattacharya and Vishnu Sharan Dublish were given 7 yrs imprisonment. Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, Ram Dulare Trivedi, Prem Krishna Khanna and Pranawesh Chatterjee were sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years and the least punishment (3 years I) was given to Ram Nath Pandey and Banwarilal.
Following the arrest of Ashfaqullah Khan, the police coerced him to gain supplementary evidence against his accomplices but he refused. Another supplementary case was filed against Ashfaqulla Khan and Sachindranath Bakshi in the court of Special Sessions Judge John Reginald William Bennett. An appeal was filed in the then Chief Court of Oudh (now in Uttar Pradesh) on 18 July 1927. The case trials started the next day. The judgement of the trial was pronounced a month later on 22 August.
The punishments were given as follows:
- Death sentence: Ram Prasad Bismil, Thakur Roshan Singh, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Ashfaqullah Khan
- Deportation to Kālā Pānī (Port Blair cellular jail) : Sachindranath Sanyal, Sachindranath Bakshi, Govind Charan Kar, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Mukundi Lal
- 14 years' imprisonment: Manmathnath Gupta
- 10 years' imprisonment: Raj Kumar Sinha, Vishnu Sharan Dublish, Ram Krishna Khatri and Suresh Charan Bhattacharya
- 5 years' imprisonment: Bhupendranath Sanyal, Prem Krishna Khanna, Banwari Lal and Ram Dulare Trivedi
- 4 years' imprisonment: Pranawesh Chatterjee
- 3 years' imprisonment: Ram Nath Pandey
Hunger strike in the jail
After the court gave the judgement of the main Kakori Conspiracy Case on 6 April 1927, a group photograph was taken and all the accused were sent to the different jails of the United Provinces. In the prisons, they were asked to wear the uniform like the other prisoners which lead to immediate protests and hunger-strikes. The revolutionaries argued that since they had been charged with crimes against the British rule (and supposedly overturning the British Raj), they should be treated as political prisoners and thus should possess the rights and amenities provided to political prisoners.
The details of their hunger strike are listed below :
|Name of the prisoner||Name of the jail||Days of hunger strike|
|Ram Prasad Bismil||Gorakhpur Central Jail||4 days (from 7 April 1927 to 11 April 1927)|
|Roshan Singh||Allahabad Jail||6 days (from 7 April 1927 to 13 April 1927)|
|Ram Nath Pandey||Raibareli District Jail||11 days (from 7 April 1927 to 18 April 1927)|
|Prem Krishna Khanna||Dehradun District Jail||16 days (from 7 April 1927 to 23 April 1927)|
|Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya||Agra Central Jail||19 days (from 7 April 1927 to 26 April 1927)|
|Ram Krishna Khatri||Agra Central Jail||32 days (from 7 April 1927 to 9 May 1927)|
|Mukundi Lal||Bareilly Central Jail||32 days (from 7 April 1927 t0 9 May 1927)|
|Raj Kumar Sinha||Bareilly Central Jail||38 days (from 7 April 1927 to 15 May 1927)|
|Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee||Fatehgarh Jail||41 days (from 7 April 1927 to 18 May 1927)|
|Ram Dulare Trivedi||Fatehgarh Jail||41 days (from 7 April 1927 to 18 May 1927)|
|Govind Charan Kar||Fatehgarh Jail||41 days (from 7 April 1927 to 18 May 1927)|
|Manmath Nath Gupta||Naini Allahabad Jail||45 days (from 7 April 1927 to 22 May 1927)|
|Vishnu Sharan Dublish||Naini Allahabad Jail||45 days (from 7 April 1927 to 22 May 1927)|
The legal defense for the arrested revolutionaries was provided by Gobind Ballabh Pant, Mohan Lal Saxena, Chandra Bhanu Gupta, Ajit Prasad Jain, Gopi Nath Srivastava, R. M. Bahadurji, B. K. Chaudhury and Kripa Shankar Hajela.
Pandit Jagat Narayan Mulla, a leading advocate from Lucknow and uncle-in-law of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru refused to defend the arrested revolutionaries. He was appointed as Public Prosecutor by the law of Court.
Among the political figures who came out in support of those arrested for the Kakori train robbery were: Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malviya, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru , Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Shiv Prasad Gupta, Shri Prakash and Acharya Narendra Dev.
Reaction in the country
There were widespread protests against the court's decision all over the country. Members of the central legislature even petitioned the Viceroy of India to commute the death sentences given to the four men to life sentences. Appeals were also sent to the Privy Council. However, these requests were turned down and the men were finally executed. Appeals were claimed to have been made to Mahatma Gandhi despite his lack of executive authority.
On 22 August 1927, the chief court endorsed the original judgement with an exception of one (7 yrs) punishment from the judgement of 6 April. A mercy appeal was filed in due course before the Provincial Governor of U.P. by the members of legislative council which was dismissed. Ram Prasad Bismil wrote a letter to Madan Mohan Malviya on 9 September 1927 from Gorakhpur Jail. Malviya sent a memorandum to the then Viceroy and Governor General of India Edward Fredrick Lindley Wood with the signatures of 78 Members of Central Legislature, which was also turned down.
On 16 September 1927, the final mercy appeal was forwarded to Privy Council at London and to the King Emperor through a famous lawyer of England, S. L. Polak, but the British Government, who had already decided to hang them, sent their final decision to the India office of Viceroy that all the four condemned prisoners were to be hanged till death by 19 December 1927 positively.
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 117.
- Dr. Mahaur Bhagwandas Kakori Shaheed Smriti page 30
- Sharma Vidyarnav Yug Ke Devta : Bismil Aur Ashfaq page 118
- "Kakori Conspiracy: 12 quick facts you need to know". India Today. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan, page 124–125.
- Dr. Mehrotra N.C. & Dr. Tandon Manisha page-136
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 130.