The Kakori Train Robbery, also known as the Kakori Conspiracy took place during the India Independence Movement against British rule in India. The robbery was planned and executed by the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, which was a revolutionary organization keen on uprooting British rule from India using armed struggle.
The idea of this robbery was the brainchild of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan. The reason behind this robbery was the organization’s need for money. Since people with resources refused to help the HSRA because of the fear of the government, they decided to rob a train. People involved in this plan were; Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Chandrashekhar Azad, Keshab Chakravarthy, Sachindra Bakshi, Murari Sharma, Mukundi Lal, Manmathnath Gupta and Banwari Lal.
On 9th August 1925 as the Number 8 Down Train, travelling from Saharanpur to Lucknow, approached Kakori, one of the revolutionaries pulled the chain and overpowered the guard. The HSRA decided to rob this particular train because it was carrying British Government Treasury’s money-bags kept in the guard’s cabin. During this theft one person was killed by a shot accidentally fired by one of the revolutionaries, turning this into a murder case. Upon looting the train, the members of the HSRA fled to Lucknow. They did not loot any of the Indians on the train because they wanted to shock the British by taking their money from them while popularizing the cause of the HSRA and giving them a popular imagine, since their reputation had been tarnished previously.
Ram Prasad Bismil and other members of the HSRA were charged with robbery and murder. Forty two people from over eighteen places in India were arrested. Out of these fifteen were released because there was no credible evidence against them. Out of this group, five people escaped. Two of the five who had escaped, Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindra Bakshi, were captured again after the trail. Chandrashekhar Azad not wanting himself to be captured by the British shot himself on 27th February 1931 in Allahabad.
After Ashfaqullah Khan was arrested, the police tried to ask him to provide evidence against the rest of the accused but he refused. Apart from the current case, another supplementary case was filed against Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindra Bakshi in the court of Special Sessions by Judge J.R.W Bennett. Despite numerous protests, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were sentenced to death. The sixteen others were given life sentences or long terms in prison. Following a final judgment in court, the accused were sent to different prisons across the United Provinces. The accused demanded that since they had been charged with trying to overturn the British Empire they should be treated as political prisoners and proceeded to go on a hunger strike if their demands were not met.
There was a large scale unrest across the country at the death penalty of the four accused and members of the Central Legislature put forth a petition before the Viceroy of India. Appeals were also sent to Gandhi, but all their mercy petitions were rejected and eventually the four men were hanged on 19th December 1927.