India was ruled by several rulers in their small independent kingdoms where the armies were not trained. Also, there was no political unity. A handful of British easily conquered to rule the country. Initially, they looted and destroyed the kingdoms they invaded. In 1857, British defeated the last Mughal Emperor that ended the 1000 years of Indian Muslim rule. The Indians became rebellious. The East India Company of 1757 to 1857 made the Governance Act in 1858. It was transferred directly to the Crown of Queen Victoria under the British Raj (1858-1947).
The Indians found several ways of freeing united India. There was non-operation, non-violence movements that were introduced by Gandhi. In addition, there were several revolutionary acts amongst the younger generations including Ashfaqulla Khan who sacrificed their lives for Indian independence.
Early Life of the Great Freedom Fighter
Ashfaqulla Khan’s father Shafiq Ullah Khan belonged to a military family. His mother, Mazhoor-Un-Nisa Begum was an extremely pious lady who came from an educated family. Several maternal relatives were policemen and administrative officers of the British India.
Ashfaqulla was the youngest amongst his four brothers. His elder brother, Riyasat Ullah Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil were classmates. Bismil was found absconding after the Manipuri Conspiracy. Riyasat praised Bismil for his bravery and poetic traits. Later, Ashfaqulla and Bismil got together and wrote Urdu poems [Shayar]. Ashfaq Khan used his pen names – ‘Warsi’ and ‘Hasrat’. He was a very brave and revolutionary freedom fighter.
Bond of Ashfaqulla and Bismil
Non-cooperation movement started in 1922. Bismil held meetings in Shahjahanpur to inform the public. In those days, Bismil and Ashfaq became very close friends. In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi withdrew from the non-cooperation movement after Chauri Chaura incident. Bismil in Shahjahanpur became an active member of Arya Samaj. Since Bismil never had any prejudice against any religious community, Ashfaq joined in all the revolutionaries. Ashfaq was a devout Muslim while Bismil was a Hindu, but, their common aim was to free united India. Both were hanged on the same day (19th December 1927) in two different jails of Faizabad and Gorakhpur.
The very famous Kakori Train Robbery
Since Congress withdrew from the non-cooperation movement, there were many revolutionaries all across India. Younger generation used bombs, revolvers and other weapons. They needed money so they robbed trains. One day, Bismil was traveling by train from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow. He noticed every station master at every stop bringing money bags to the guard who collected and gave the cash to the station superintendent at Lucknow junction. In August 1925, Ashfaqulla Khan and 8 other freedom fighters looted all the money under the leadership of Bismil. This was reported as the Kakori train robbery. Following, there were several train robberies.
Conspiracy Case Filed
After several revolutionaries, the British Viceroy deployed the Scotland Yard. Within a month of investigation, the British arrested all the revolutionaries overnight. Morning of 26th September 1925 Bismil and others from Shahjahanpur were arrested. However, our great freedom fighter, Ashfaq managed to abscond and hide in Banaras. He continued his journey to Bihar where he worked in an engineering Company for 10-months. Ashfaq wanted to travel abroad to meet Lala Har Dayal for the Indian freedom struggle. He reached Delhi and enquired how to leave India. His Pathan friend betrayed and turned him in so Ashfaq was arrested by the police. He was detained in the Faizabad jail while a case was filed against him.
Riyasat Ulla Khan appointed Kripa Shankar Hajela, a senior advocate, who pleaded the case as his counselor. Although Hajela fought till the very end, he could not save Ashfaq’s life. Four conspirators – Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Thakur Roshan Singh were awarded the death sentence for the Kakori case. The sixteen others went through rigorous punishment varying from four years up to life sentence. On 19th December 1927, Ashfaqulla Khan, the brave freedom fighter was hanged.
Visionary Quotes by Great Freedom Fighter – Ashfaqulla Khan
“Khoon se khelenge Holi gar Vatan mushkil main hai”.
“ 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 be finished”.
“Weep not children, weep not elders; I am immortal! I am immortal !!”
Written By: Hetal Kabra