Bahadur ke mut ek baar hoti hai
Buzdil har roz sau baar marta hai
– Ashfaqulla Khan
Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on 19th December, 1927. Today, 19th December, 2008, is his 81st death anniversary.
Ashfaqulla Khan was born on October 22, 1900 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of the six children of Shafiqur Rahman and Mazharunissa. His father worked in the police department.
Ashfaqulla was school student when Mahatma Gandhi called for the Non-Cooperation Movement. This had a great influence on him and shaped him to become a freedom fighter. He was labeled as a terrorist by the British Government for his active participation in the train robbery at Kakori.
After the Chauri Chaura incident, Mahatma Gandhi’s withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement left the youth of India very much depressed. Ashfaqulla was one of them. He felt the urge to free India as soon as possible and joined the extremists.
He made friendship with Ram Prasad Bismil who was a famous revolutionary of Shahjahanpur and a member of the Arya Samaj. In spite of their differences of faith, their common objective to free India from the shackles of the British rule.
A meeting was organized by the revolutionaries on August 8, 1925 in Shahjahanpur. They decided to rob the Government treasury carried in the train to buy arms. So on August 9, 1925 the group of extremists comprising of Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla, Rajendra Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh, Sachindra Bakshi, Chandrashekar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy, Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal, Manmathnath Gupta robbed the train carrying government money in Kakori village. This event is known as the famous Kakori Train Robbery in history.
Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested by the police on the morning of September 26, 1925. Ashfaqulla was still absconding. He went to Banaras from Bihar and started working in an engineering company. He worked there for 10 months. He wanted to go abroad to study engineering which would further help him in the freedom struggle. He went to Delhi for this purpose. He trusted one of his Pathan friends who pretended to help him but in turn handed him over to the police.
Ashfaqulla was confined in the Faizabad jail. His brother Riyasatullah was his counsel who fought the case. The case for the Kakori train decoity ended with the awarding of the death sentence to Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan. The others were given life sentences.
Ashfaqulla Khan was hanged on December 19, 1927.
We honour those who fought for the cause of our freedom from colonial rulers and promise they will never be forgotten.
This message was distributed by the Janbaat Book Distributors, Delhi, at the Pragoti Email List.