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Ashfaqulla Khan

Kakori Conspiracy and Ashfaqulla Khan

Kakori Train Conspiracy or Kakori Train Robbery took place on August 9 1925. It was robbery of Train number 8 running from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow as it approached the town of Kakori.  The robbery was organized by the Hindustan Republic Association of which Ashfaqulla Khan was part of.  The robbery was organized to loot the money bags belonging to the British Government Treasury, in the Guard’s Cabin. Not a single Indian on the train was robbed. However one passenger was accidentally killed during the raid on the train. A total amount of Rs.8000 was robbed by the raiders.

The objectives of the mission were to

  • To get money for the organisation which was intended to be taken from the opponent, the British Administration itself.
  • To get some public attention by creating a positive image of the HRA among Indians to overcome the bad image created by British Administration.
  • To shake the British Administration by robbing money from them.

However the British Administration caught up with the perpetrators of the raid. Ashfaqulla Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil who were organizers of the raid and over 40 people from across India were arrested and tried in the conspiracy. Both Ashfaqulla Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil were hanged. Khan was barely 27 years old.

Ashfaqullah Khan was born on 22 October 1900 in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. His father, Shafiq Ullah Khan belonged to a Mughal family which was famous for their military background. His maternal side was of the family was better educated and many of those relatives had served in the police and administrative services of British India. His mother Mazhoor-Un-Nisa Begum was an extremely pious lady. Ashfaqullah was the youngest amongst all his four brothers. His elder brother Riyasat Ullah Khan was a classmate of Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil. When Bismil was declared absconder after the Mainpuri Conspiracy, Riyasat used to tell his younger brother Ashfaq about the bravery and shayari of Bismil. Since then Ashfaq was very keen to meet Bismil, because of his poetic attitude. In 1920, when Bismil came to Shahjahanpur and engaged himself in business, Ashfaq tried so many times to contact him but Bismil paid no attention.

In 1922, when Non-cooperation movement started and Bismil organised meetings in Shahjahanpur to tell the public about the movement, Ashfaqullah met him in a public meeting and introduced himself as a younger brother of his classmate. He also told Bismil that he wrote poems under the pen-names of ‘Warsi’ and ‘Hasrat’. Bismil listened to some of his couplets in a private get-together at Shahjahanpur and they became good friends. Ashfaq often wrote something and showed it to Bismil who immediately corrected or improved the same. Thus a very good poetic alignment between Ashfaq and Bismil developed and it was so familiar that whosoever listened to them in any of the poetic conferences called Mushaira in Urdu language was overwhelmed with surprise.
Ashfaq was a very good Urdu poet who wrote beautiful couplets and ghazals with the pen-name of ‘Warsi’ and ‘Hasrat’. But very few people know that he had also written in Hindi as well as in English. While he was confined in the solitary cell of Faizabad Jail, he started writing a diary. Few words of English are reproduced hereunder from his diary:

  • * Patriotism brings with him all sort of troubles and pains, but a man who chooses it,all the troubles and pains become comforts and ease for him. That is why we remain cheerful up to our aim.
  • Only for the love of our country I suffer so much.
  • There is no dream, and if there is,there is only one to see you my children struggling for the same and for which I am expected to be finished.
  • Brothers and friends will weep after me but I am weeping over their coldness and infidelity towards our motherland.
  • Weep not children, weep not elders; I am immortal ! I am immortal !!
  • In another letter written to his beloved mother, sisters and nephews he writes: “We too had done some of the works which we could, but those were the days, we had the glamour on face and strength in the chest. But now is the hope only hope from you, you are now grown up and we are at the verge of setting like a sun in the west.” In Urdu he had written:

“kiye the kaam hamane bhii, jo kuchh bhii humse ban paaye; ye baatein tab ki hain aazaad the aur tha shabaab apanaa. magar ab to jo kuchh bhii hai ummidein bas vo tum se hain, javaan tum ho labe-baam aa chukaa hai aafataab apnaa.”[4]

“किये थे काम हमने भी जो कुछ भी हमसे बन पाये,ये बातें तब की हैं आज़ाद थे और था शबाब अपना;मगर अब तो जो कुछ भी हैं उम्मीदें बस वो तुमसे हैं,जबाँ तुम हो लबे-बाम आ चुका है आफताब अपना.”

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