Hiring a bike in most parts of urban India is not a problem. However, riding it is a little cumbersome task. Moreover, we had to ride 25 km north of Lucknow. It took us about 30-45 mins. from the city center. All thanks to the traffic and metro construction. However, we visited a very less known and underrated place. It was a significant incident and one of it’s kind probably in the whole world. Yet, the Kakory Kand or Kakori Conspiracy is not all that known to even the locals.
Kakori conspiracy was a planned robbery. It took place on a railway track between Lucknow and Kakori. HSRA, a revolutionary organization claimed responsibility. The train was carrying money bags in the guard’s cabin. The Britishers allegedly transferred precious stones, metal, and money from India to the British treasury. HSRA looted these bags for fundraising.
Those were the days of pre-independence time. A lot of sacrifices were made by various Indians in their own ways. Risks taken by them were immeasurable. Though their paths were different, their goals were all the same. Indian freedom. We are talking about revolutionaries. They dared to challenge the Britishers. Britishers had to vacate India. One such revolutionary organization was behind the Kakori Kand. It was the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).
HRA’s involvement in Kakori Conspiracy
HRA, as mentioned earlier, was a revolutionary organization. It was established in 1924 by Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Narendra Mohan Sen, and Pratul Ganguly as an offshoot of Anushilan Samiti. Bengal was a hub for such organizations apart from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Its objective was to vacate Britishers from India and establish a “Federated Republic of the United States of India” through an organized and armed revolution.
Ramprasad Bismil and HRA
Ramprasad Bismil was introduced to HRA. He was declared District Organiser of Shahajahanpur and headed the Arms division. Initially, they had a white paper printed just with the heading “The Revolutionary”. This was considered as the first pamphlet of HRA and was circulated secretly by post and by hand. Also, it was in itself a strategy to raise funds. It was distributed in most of the districts of the United Province and other parts of India. This was claimed to be the first issue of the publication. However, it was dated, 1 January 1925.
Kakori Conspiracy Team
As time went by, numerous friends and contemporaries of Ramprasad Bismil joined HRA. Some of the important people were:
The State of HRA before Kakori Incident
Any organization meets sorry state when there are fewer or no funds. HRA was facing the same situation. The volunteers were under extreme debts. To meet the basics of life was difficult.
- having one meal a day was a herculean task
- debts were eating up the volunteers
- no volunteer had even decent clothes to wear
- sometimes they used to visit religious places to survive
- motivation was dying
The senior volunteers or the ones having roles and responsibilities had to borrow money from other places and lend it to their juniors for their survival. This had become a routine. Most of the junior volunteers used to come to Ramprasad Bismil. It was discouraging to see the youths turning into beggars.
HRA volunteer’s conditions!
No shirt, no dhoti was in good condition. They had hardly eaten anything. To Bath, they had to use towels. Food was limited to an eatery called Sattu. It was a mixture of Pulse and Gram. Moreover, they could afford this only once a day. This was the most inexpensive food. So, they had no other option. It looked like the HRA had ruined the lives of its volunteers. The youths who had high hopes in HRA had now lost all their hopes. As mentioned earlier it was like beggars had no choice.
Arrests before Kakori Conspiracy
In addition to all this, the Bengal ordinance was also released. This had resulted in the arrest of lots of people. This had a huge impact on HRA volunteers. They were as is not having money and above this, the arrests. Subsequently, they lost all the interest and it had become a tough time to keep them motivated. There was no donor, nobody to talk to, regarding fundraising. In spite of personal requests, nobody was ready to contribute on a regular basis. All this made them close some offices of HRA.
The problems in an organization are multi-folded. On the one side, there was poverty among some volunteers. On the other side of the organization was a set of people who used to indulge in showing off, with their unnecessary skills. This used to cause greater damage to the organization than poverty. Innocents were easily inspired by such people and follow them blindly. They were serving their own interests by causing damage to the innocent. This leads to a split in groups and kills unity among groups.
No money for weapons
Youths have curious, excited and unsteady minds. This causes difficulty in being steady at work. Their excitement makes them take unpredictable decisions. It, in turn, ruins the organization. It will be fantastic nonsense to see them with the weapons. Without having a clue, they just keep doing what they want to, like children.
Contrary to this, there was a group of youngsters who had good contacts with a weapons manufacturing company. But, because the HRA had no money, they had to rely on the party sources. Even when they agreed to supply on a credit basis, it was not possible. Moreover, the suppliers were also keen on supplying customized machine guns. Unfortunately, they had to think of alternatives. The only possibility was to rely on robberies. That was indeed the only way out. Furthermore, this triggered the most important thought, in Bismil’s mind. He starts telling us the story of the Kakori Incident.
Kakori Kand as narrated by Bismil
If we have to rob, why not rob the government. Anyway, the government’s money is our people’s money that they are stealing from us.
After a few days, with all these problems in mind, we were going on a train to another place. We were in the next compartment to that of the train’s guard. In most of the stations, the stationmaster used to get some boxes into the guard’s cabin. This box was entering another bigger box. It almost used to happen in every other station. In one of the subsequent stations, we had the opportunity to watch the box closely. Only after that, we came to know that there were no locks or chains to these boxes. This gave us a brilliant idea to decide on our target, a train box full of money.
The Kakori Kand Live
The previous journey inspired us to rob from a moving train by stopping it. We marked the timings of different trains. Scrutinizing the time table we came to the conclusion. The train will have a certain stop by the time it reaches Lucknow. This will be our best bet to rob. There could be an estimated ten thousand rupee collection. We planned to have the manpower of around ten people. But looking at the execution part, we thought we might require more people to work on. Getting people was a tough task. Therefore, we changed the plan. We decided to stop the train mid-way between railway stations. This became a lot easier for us to rob the Guards carriage.
We had to pull the chain. On the contrary, this was not possible from a third-class compartment. The third class compartments were not well maintained. So, we had to rely on the second class compartments. We pulled the chain and stopped the train. After this, we started walking towards the Gaurd’s compartment. We took out the iron trunk that we had identified previously. To break it, we used a chisel in vain. After that, Chandrashekar Azad, who was a very strong man, had to use an axe to break the trunk.
Channelize the youths
We instructed passengers on board about our intentions and reasons. They were not supposed to deboard the train. Moreover, we had also instructed our youths not to use their guns unnecessarily. However, there were some untrained youths among us, whom we could not control. Moreover, these elements shot the gun on one of our own men. He had deboarded the train to meet his wife who was in another compartment. Sadly, he got killed. Consequently, there was a set of trained youths who fired five shots every five minutes. Just to keep the drama live and scare the rebels. The youths did this until we got the cash. We never wanted to turn the robbery into a Homicide.
Transferring the money
After breaking the box was, we packed money in three bags. Clear instructions were given not to behind anything before leaving. But, there was a person who had left behind a bedsheet. We had planned to instantly leave the place and reach Lucknow. Nobody, in the whole incident, asked us who we were. We reached safely. Even the two armed British Soldiers were looking at the drama like mute spectators. The driver remained seated in the engine. The engineer had hidden inside the toilet. Passengers were told beforehand that we will be robbing the government’s money.
They cooperated and kept their calm throughout. Anyone looking at the whole incident would have assumed us to be around forty people. But, in reality, it was only ten of is who carried out the whole show. We stopped the train in the broad daylight, surrounded the train and looted it. Many young people among us were hardly twenty-two. This event gave us great hope in the future. Also, the money looted paid us really well. We had all debt cleared, gave money to volunteers and kept aside a thousand rupees for purchasing weapons.
Mistakes on Kakori Kand
There were some mistakes that we did not avoid. Therefore, the organization took a back seat for a long time. According to our records, this was one of its kind. There was inexperience and unexpectedly some volunteers backfired. There was a traitor in the arms, a snake in the backyard. They attacked us and we were all caught.
What we thought to be a prized necklace, and hung around the neck, turned out to be a serpent to kill us, without trace.
Subsequently, we were forty of us whom the Britishers imprisoned. After that, they hung four of us.
Ramprasad Bismil has written an autobiography when he was in jail. The last part of the article is an extract from the book, in his own words.