The infamous robbery was the master plan of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to HRA, which after some time came to be known as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.


The infamous robbery was the master plan of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to HRA, which after some time came to be known as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. The motive behind the inception of this organization was to carry out revolutionary activities against the Erstwhile British Empire.

The principal objective of this organization was to achieve independence from the British. Due to the deficiency of funds at that time for the purchase of weaponry, Bismil along with others made a plan to carry out a robbery. They planned to rob a train that ran on the Saharanpur Railway lines. The main minds behind this robbery were that of Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarty, Manmathnath Gupta, Mukundi Lal, Murari Lal Gupta and Banwari Lal. During the robbery, the death of one passenger happened unintentionally.[1]

The Robbery

On August 9, 1925, train number 8 was due to travel from Shahjahanpur to the city of Lucknow. During its journey, when the train passed Kakori, the plan was initiated by one of the revolutionaries, Rajendra Lahiri, who pulled the emergency chain so that to bring the train to a halt. Meanwhile, the other revolutionaries were instrumental in overpowering the other guards. The main motive behind looting this train was the speculation that this train was carrying loads of cash that belonged to Indians and was being transferred to the account of the Britishers.

The HRA’s aim was to only loot these specific bags which belonged to the Indians and nothing else. So, they ended up taking only the money which was contained in the guard’s compartment (approximately Rs. 4600) and managed to escape to Lucknow.[2]

The real motive behind this robbery was twofold:

(a) to fund and aid HRA with money and;

(b) to gather mass public belief by instilling a positive image of HRA among the masses.

One individual, by the name of Ahmad Ali, who was a lawyer by profession, was going to see his wife who was in the women’s compartment but was unfortunately shot midway by Manmathnath Gupta, but it was later made a case of murder.

After this incident took place, the British started a hunt for the revolutionaries who were a part of this robbery. Subsequently, many revolutionaries were arrested on this account. The mastermind behind this incident, Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested at Shahjahanpur on October 26, 1925, and Ashfaqullah Khan on December 7, 1926 at Delhi.[3]

The Trial

Bismil and company were booked with various offences including murder and robbery. There was a lack of evidence, due to which the Britishers had no choice but to release fourteen people. Among all of them, two- namely Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindranath Bakshi were held guilty. After this, the HRA was reconstituted by Chandrashekhar Azad and he was instrumental in its functioning till his death, i.e., February 27, 1931.

Further, there were charges initiated against three men but eventually were dropped. A few of them were released due to illness while some others came to be approvers for pardoning their sentence.

The Court’s Proceedings

Out of all the accused, 19 were released. The left 21 faced the trial that began on May 1, 1926 in the Special Sessions Court under the orders of Justice Archibald Hamilton.[4]

The court very smartly appointed Jagat Narayan Mulla as the public prosecutor. He was appointed with a malafide intention, as he had a history with Ram Prasad Bismil. He was prejudiced against Bismil since 1916 when Bismil was instrumental in leading a grand procession of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the city of Lucknow.

The government was also successful in bribing numerous accused so that they could become government approvers. The court relied on the statements and testimonies of one person- Banwari Lal. This was so as he was the one who was instrumental in meeting the revolutionaries and also took part in the robberies that took place in Bamrauli and Dwarikapur. Hence, the statements he made was used as concrete and primary evidence against the HRA members.

The court delivered the judgment based on the facts and circumstances on April 6th, 1927, which was as follows:

Three of them were sentenced to death namely Ram Prasad Bismil, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Roshan Singh. Sachindranath Sanyal was given the punishment of life imprisonment. Manmathnath Gupta was sentenced to 14 years of jail time. Five accused were sentenced to a sentence of 10 years namely, Mukundi Lal, Ram Khrishna Khatri, Raj Kumar Sinha, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Govind Charan Kar, while Vishnu Sharan Dublish and Suresh Bhattacharya were given a sentence of seven years of imprisonment. Some among others were given 5 years and a minimum of three years of imprisonment.

Aftermaths of the Judgment | Kakori Conspiracy Case

After the court delivered the judgment of the Kakori Conspiracy Case on 6 April 1927, a group photograph was taken and all the convicted were shipped off the various jails of the United Provinces. In the prisons, they were ordered to wear jail garbs like different prisoners which lead to quick fights and hunger strikes. The people associated with the revolution contended that since they had been accused of violations contrary to the British rule (and probably toppling the British Raj), they ought to be treated as political prisoners and in this manner ought to have the freedoms and rights gave to political prisoners.[5]

There were boundless protests against the court’s verdict all around the nation. Individuals from the Central Legislature even requested the Viceroy of India to drive the capital punishments given to the four men to life sentences. Requests were additionally given to the Privy Council. In any case, these solicitations were turned down and the men were at last executed. Requests were professed to have been likewise made by Mahatma Gandhi, in spite of his absence of chief power.

Clemency Report

On 11 August 1927, the Chief Court endorsed the first judgment with an exception of one (7 yrs) punishment from the judgment of 6 April. A mercy appeal was recorded at the appropriate time before the Provincial Governor of U.P. by the individuals from the legislative council which was excused. Ram Prasad Bismil composed a letter to Madan Mohan Malviya on 9 September 1927 from Gorakhpur Jail. Malviya sent an update to the then Viceroy and Governor-General of India Lord Irwin with the marks of 78 Members of Central Legislature, which was likewise turned down.

On 16 September 1927, the last mercy appeal was sent to Privy Council at London and to the King-Emperor through a popular legal advisor of England, Henry S. L. Polak, however, the British Government, who had as of now chosen to hang them, sent their ultimate choice to the India office of Viceroy that every one of the four sentenced prisoners were to be hanged till death by 16 December 1927 emphatically.

[1] Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 117.

[2] Sharma Vidyarnav Yug Ke Devta: Bismil Aur Ashfaq page 118

[3] Dr. Mahaur Bhagwandas Kakori Shaheed Smriti page 30

[4] “Kakori Conspiracy: 12 quick facts you need to know”. India Today. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2021.

[5] Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan, pages 124–125.

  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
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Updated On 26 Jan 2024 8:23 AM GMT
Antariksh Anant

Antariksh Anant

Antariksh is a Law student at RGNUL - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law Patiala, Punjab, India.

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