Perhaps the most audacious act of resistance against the British Raj, Kakori train robbery, stands as one of the first few incidents that shook the empire. The details of the event are rather sketchy.
It all started when a band of unground revolutionaries decided to take matters in their own hands after Mahatma Gandhi abruptly called off the Non-Cooperation Movement in February 1922. As a result, the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA, later named Hindustan Socialist Republican) was formed whose leaders included Chandrasekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaq Ullah Khan and Bhagat Singh.
On the night of 9 August 1925, members of HRA decided to pull off a train robbery. The target was a Number 8 Down train allegedly carrying money-bags belonging to the British Government Treasury from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow.
The Kakori robbery was planned by Revolutionaries – Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan. It was executed by Bismil, Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad, Rajendra Lahiri, Shachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Murari Lal Khanna(Gupta), Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal Gupta and Manmathnath Gupta.
The objective of the robbery was to gain funds for the HRA and to attack high profile British officers so as to rise up the reputation of true freedom fighters. The train was robbed near Kakori when a group of 8-10 armed men overpowered a guard and fled with the money.
The incident was later memorialized by several Hindi films such as, “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”, where a scene dedicated to the Kakori incident was well played by Bollywood’s finest actor, Ajay Devgan.
After the Kakori train Kand, a massive manhunt ensued to apprehend the people involved in the robbery as well as manslaughter. A list of 50 odd suspects was sent out to the authorities from Allahabad to Kanpur. The British suspected the involvement of an unground revolutionary group known as the Hindustan Republican Association, also involved in the post office robberies in Calcutta in 1924.
Eventually, some 30 individuals were put on trial before the special magistrate in Lucknow. In 1927, the conspirators of the Kakori Kand were apprehended. Some were sentenced to death, others were led off due to lack of evidence while the rest were sent to the Cellular Jail in Port Blair.
While this planned attack may seem unfinished, it did have a far greater impact on the British Empire. Kakori Kand ensued many organized attacks on the British thereafter. The death sentences to the revolutionaries evoked widespread protests across the length and breadth of the country. It was, in fact, the result of these small organized protests and disturbances that ultimately loosened the Empire’s grip on India and made it extremely difficult for them to control an enraged India.
Even 95 years after the Kakori Train Robbery, the memories are still fresh in our hearts.
Kakori – 95 years later
Today the Kakori Station has been rightfully marked to celebrate our courageous freedom fighters. Often forgotten and pushed in the background, this Independence day let us all remember the brave, the courageous, the selfless who gambled their lives on the night of 9 August 1925. Independence was not achieved in a fortnight. It happened only because our freedom fighters kept trying to liberate us all in their own selfless capacities.
Kakori Station is situated only 16 km from the city of Lucknow. Rent a cab from Lucknow and travel to the station in less than an hour’s time. For those traveling from the Lucknow airport, you can rent a taxi right outside the airport and head straight to the historical site in a safe, sanitized taxi of your choice.
Note: This article belongs to a series called Freedom to Travel. The series aims at educating the reader on the lesser-known locations that were instrumental during the Indian Freedom struggle. You can find the other articles in the series here.
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