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The 1925 Kakori Train Action and its young revolutionary leaders

  • Published
    19th Dec, 2022
Context

Four revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement were hanged on December 17, Rajendranath Lahiri and December 19 Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Thakur Roshan Singh in 1927.

 

Background
  • In 1920, Mahatma Gandhi declared the launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement, a campaign which asked Indians to revoke their support from any activity that sustained the British government and economy in India.
  • Gandhiji had envisioned this movement to be non-violent, using his methods of Satyagraha to eventually attain self-governance.
  • However, an incident changed the movement’s trajectory in 1922.
  • After police firing killed three protesting men in the town of Chauri Chaura in present-day Uttar Pradesh, a mob later set fire to the police station, burning 22 policemen to death.
  • The incident led to the sudden end of the Non-cooperation movement, with Gandhi calling it off despite significant internal disagreement within the Indian National Congress (INC).
  • The Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) was thus founded by a group of young men who were dissatisfied by the Non-violence tactics and closing down the Non-cooperation movement.

Kakori Train Action

  • The Kakori Train Action took place on August 9, 1925, when revolutionaries of the Hindustan Republican Association looted the money being transferred to the British government treasury through a train.
  • They wanted to buy weapons from the money for an armed struggle against the British.
  • On August 9, 1925, as the train was passing the Kakori station, about 15 km from Lucknow, Rajendranath Lahiri, a member of the HRA who was already seated inside, pulled the chain and stopped the train.
  • Subsequently, around ten revolutionaries, including Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan, entered the train and overpowered the guard.
  • They looted the treasury bags (containing approx Rs.4, 600) and escaped to Lucknow.
  • The British authorities were enraged, undertaking a violent crackdown and soon arresting many members of the HRA.

The only major leader of HRA at this time who evaded arrest was Chandrashekhar Azad.

  • Most of the revolutionaries who took part in the action were arrested.
  • Four of them were hanged to the death between December 17 and December 19, some were deported to cellular jail (‘kaala paani’) in Port Blair while others were imprisoned in various jails.
    • Rajendra Nath Lahiri was hanged in Gonda jail on December 17, 1927.
    • Two days later, Ram Prasad Bismil was hanged in Gorakhpur, Ashfaqullah Khan in Faizabad and Thakur Roshan Singh in Naini jail in Allahabad.

The Hindustan Republican Association (HRA):

  • Hindustan Republican Association was a revolutionary organisation that was set up in 1923. It was renamed in 1928 as the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).
  • Founders: Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Sachindra Nath Bakshi, Sachindranath Sanyal and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee. 
  • It was dedicated to freeing India from British rule through revolution, including armed rebellion. To fund their activities, the HRA carried out raids such as the train robbery.
  • Their manifesto released on January 1, 1925, was titled Krantikari (Revolutionary), written by Ram Prasad Bismil.
    • The document expressed the ideology, plans and vision of the HRA on questions regarding foreign rule, the independence movement and the future of India.

What happened to the HRA afterwards?

  • In 1928, a year after the execution of the Kakori Conspiracy accused, the HRA merged with various other revolutionary groups that had emerged in Punjab, Bihar and Bengal and became the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).
  • Gradually it made its Marxist leanings more explicit, working with the Communist International and speaking of a revolution involving a struggle by the masses to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • By the 1930s, the HSRA had lost steam with many of its prominent leaders either dead or in prison.
  • However, over the latter half of the 1920s, the group was key in carrying out various acts of resistance against British rule, participating in protests against the Simon Commission, the subsequent assassination of assistant police commissioner J.P Saunders, and the bombing of Viceroy Irwin’s train, among others.
  • In the 1930s it broke down into various regional factions.

Outcomes of the Conspiracy: Contribution to the Indian freedom struggle

  • After the conspiracy, the Britishers got an early detection of the Indian's planning against their loot and exploitations.
  • It enraged the youth of the nation towards the freedom struggle.
  • Several looting activities and non-cooperation by locals started in response to the case.
  • Nationwide protests against the British tactics caught fire.
  • Major leaders of the Indian freedom struggle also advocated the members of HRA actions making the Indian movement united.
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