Today is Jayanti of #AshfaqullaKhan one of the revolutionaries involved in the Kakori case, close associate to Ram Prasad Bismil, who was hanged along with him. Another of our heroes who laid down their lives for our freedom.
Apart from being home to one of the more well known musical gharanas, and home town of sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, Shahjahanpur was a hub of the revolutionary movement, both Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan were from here.
Ashfaqullah Khan was born on October 22, 1900, the youngest of six siblings, son of Mohd. Shafiqullah Khan and Majroonissa Begum.While his father, came from a modest background, his mother came from a well off family, whose men were highly educated.
However their support to the British angered the common folk, and their Kothi was ransacked and burnt down during the 1857 Revolt. He was introduced to Bismil’s poetry, through his elder brother Riyasatullah, who happened to be his classmate. #AshfaqullaKhan
The poetry of Bismil, so impressed Ashfaq, that he wanted to meet him as soon as he could. However Ram Prasad was absconding then for his involvement in the Mainpuri conspiracy. When Ram Prasad came back to Shahjahanpur in 1920, that was the time Ashfaq got a chance to meet him.
Though he tried meeting Bismil many a time earlier, he could not. However one evening when Bismil was at the river,in a meeting with other friends, Ashfaq did manage to meet him.
Ram Prasad asked Ashfaq to meet him at Arya Samaj. The principles of the Arya Samaj had a deep impact on Ram Prasad, which was not to the liking of his father. He even ran away from home after an argument with his father, and was later bought back by his father’s friends.
Interestingly Ashfaq’s family too was against him going to Arya Samaj, but he did not pay heed to their words, and went. After a rather long talk with Ram Prasad, Ashfaq became an active member of the Matruvedi, a party that was started by Bismil.
Ashfaq advised Bismil that along with their revolutionary activities, they should also be part of Congress party. Many youngsters of Shahjahanpur too joined the Congress. Bismil along with Ashfaqullah and another freedom fighter Prem Kishen Khanna joined the Congress in 1921.
In 1921, Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non Cooperation movement and it gave an impetus to the revolutionary movement. This decision split the Congress into two groups, one headed by Gandhi, another by Chittaranjan Das.
Around this time some of the youth of Bengal, requested Bismil to start a new party. His fame had already spread wide, due to his involvement in the Mainpuri conspiracy. However Bismil, was busy with his silk weaving factory, and felt he would not be able to devote time to it.
It was #AshfaqullaKhan again who convinced him to do so, and assured him of all cooperation. Bismil went to Allahabad in 1923, and drafted the constitution of the new party along with Sachindranath Sanyal and Dr.Jadugopal Mukherjee.
On 3 Oct 1924, the Hindustan Republican Association was founded in Kanpur, with Sanyal as the Chairman and Bismil as the District in charge for Shahjahanpur, he was also in charge of the Arms.
With his business established well, Ram Prasad plunged headlong into the revolutionary movement again, organizing the workers and volunteers. However the lack of funds was proving to be a main hindrance.
While he led some dacoities initially to gather money, Ram Prasad realized it was not sufficient, and there was no point in harassing his own fellow Indians. And that would lead to the famous Kakori conspiracy.
Kakori was a small village near Lucknow, and the 8 Down between Shahjahanpur and Lucknow used to pass through it daily. Ram Prasad decided to stop the train at Kakori and take away the money bags..
#AshfaqullaKhan though initially opposed the plan, saying it was too risky, and the Government would crack down real hard. However with others like Rajendra Lahiri, Thakur Roshan Singh going along with Bismil, he too lent his support.
August 9, 1925, evening time, along with 9 other revolutionaries, Rajendra Lahiri pulled the chain at Kakori station, while Ashfaqullah held the driver hostage with his Mauser pistol . While Ram Prasad Bismil pushed the guard down and looted the Government money from his cabin.
However when none could break the safe, it was #AshfaqullaKhan once again who managed to break it with all his strength.There was no bloodshed, except for one passenger killed accidentally.
Soon the Government cracked down, on the Kakori conspirators and, and arrest warrants were issued.While Chandrasekhar Azad managed to evade the crackdown, Ram Prasad was arrested soon enough, while Ashfaqullah went into hiding for some time.
#AshfaqullaKhan spent some time in Kanpur, working in Ganesh Vidyarthi’s printing press. And for quite some time he wandered all over the North from Kanpur to Bihar to Rajasthan, changing names.
He finally went to Delhi, and wanted to somehow escape India and meet Lala Hardayal. However he was betrayed by his own friend in Delhi, to the police and was arrested by Ikramul Haque. #AshfaqullaKhan
Tasadukk Hussain, the SP, tried to provoke Ashfaq, against Bismil, using the Hindu-Muslim angle, but he refused to be provoked and fall into the trap.
“Ashfaq, I am also Muslim. I am very sorry for your arrest. I can have you released if you accept my advice. You become Government approver. Ram Prasad Bismil is a Hindu and wants to establish the rule of Hindus. You should not be with him.” - Tasaduk Hussain
“Mind your tongue, Panditji( which is what he used to call Ram Prasad), aim is to for the freedom of India. He is my brother. I would rather die under the rule of Hindus than to live under the British rule."- #AshfaqullaKhan
Finally Ashfaq was detained in Faizabad prison, his brother took the help of Kripa Shankar Haleja, a senior advocate. Others like Acharya Narendra Dev, Chandra Bhanpu Gupta, G.B. Pant too did their best to defend the Kakori case accused.
In spite of the best efforts of Hajela, Ashfaqullah was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death. Ram Prasad Bismil, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh were also convicted to death along with him. The whole country protested against the death sentences.
Petitions were made to the Viceroy to reduce their death sentence into life sentences. Even the Privy Council was approached. It was all in vain.
At Faizabad, Ashfaqullah was put in solitary detention, where he spent time reading the Quran and doing the Namaz. During his confinement in Faizabad, he penned his own diary, apart from Urdu, was equally good in Hindi and English.
Patriotism brings with him all sort of troubles and pains, but a man who chooses it,everything become comforts and ease for him.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 die.-AshfaqullaKhan
Brothers and friends will weep after me but I am weeping over their coldness and infidelity towards our motherland. Only for the love of our country I suffer so much. Weep not children, weep not elders; I am immortal ! I am immortal !!- #AshfaqullaKhan
I shall go empty handed but with the pain, that when will Hindustan be a free nation once again. Bismil is a Hindu he says “I shall come, I shall come again and again, till I free Bharat from the foreigner”. #AshfaqullaKhan
. I also wish to say the same as Bismil, but am bound by my religion. I am a Muslim, do not believe in rebirth; but if I meet Allah, I shall spread my arms in front of him, and ask him not for Jannat, but just one opportunity to be reborn again to free India.- #AshfaqullaKhan
Dec 19, 1927
District prison, Faizabad. “My hands are not soiled with the murder of man. The charges framed against me are a bare false”- Ashfaqulla’s last words before hanged. He kissed the rope, and began to recite the Shahadat, as the noose tightened around his neck.
The voice of #AshfaqullahKhan along with Ram Prasad Bismil fell silent on Dec 19, 1927, but their sacrifice for the cause of freedom would forever remain. #Naman to a great patriot on his Jayanti.
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