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Independence Day: What mattered most to Ashfaqulla Khan was to see Mother India free

By Vikas
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    The history of India's freedom struggle is a long one the list of heroes who sacrificed their lives for our beloved motherland is endless. While some chose a moderate path to challenge the British rule and demand freedom, a few, known as revolutionaries, decided to take up the arms to force the colonial rulers to leave India.

    Ashfaqulla Khan (Image credit - Youtube screengrab)

    One such revolutionary was Ashfaqulla Khan who was part of the band of patriots who took part in 1925's Kakori Train Robbery. The Kakori train robbery took place near Kakori near Lucknow on 9 August 1925. The robbery was organised by the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). The robbery was conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to the HRA.

    HRA wanted to carry out revolutionary activities against the British Empire in India with the objective of achieving independence. For this, they needed money for purchase of weapons. The robbery plan was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Manmathnath Gupta, Murari Lal Gupta (fake name of Murari Lal Khanna), Mukundi Lal (Mukundi Lal Gupta) and Banwari Lal.

    [Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna: Remembering the firebrand revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil]

    It is believed that they looted that specific train because it was supposedly carrying money bags in the guard's cabin - the money bags allegedly belonged to India and was being transferred to the British government Treasury.

    After the incident, the British started intense manhunt and 40 members of the Hindustan Republic Association were booked for robbery and arrested.

    While some people were arrested and then detained, Swaran Singh, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh were awarded death sentences. However, it is said that Roshan Singh was not involved in Kakori but was hanged anyway.

    How was Ashfaqullah Khan caught?

    On the morning of 26 September 1925, Bismil was caught by the police and Khan was the only one untraced by the police. He went into hiding and moved to Banaras from Bihar where he worked in an engineering company for 10 months. He wanted to move abroad to learn engineering to further help the freedom struggle and so he went to Delhi to find out ways to move out of the country. He took the help of one of his Pathan friend who in turn betrayed him by informing the police about his whereabouts.

    [Looking back at India's freedom struggle with centenarian H S Doreswamy]

    Khan was detained in the Faizabad jail and a case was filed against him. His brother Riyasatullah was his legal counsel. While in jail, Khan recited the Quran. The case for the Kakori dacoity was concluded by awarding death sentence to Bismil, Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Thankur Roshan Singh. The others were given life sentences. (Source - Wikipedia)

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