Shaheed Ashfaqulla Khan

Ashfaqulla Khan was among the greatest revolutionaries of India’s freedom struggle, who laid down the stone of freedom from British rule in India. He became one of the greatest martyrs of the nation, who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their motherland. He was born in 1900 in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh to Shafiqullah Khan.

Ashfaqulla Khan was a school boy when Mahatma Gandhi called for the non-cooperation movement. It was a Movement where he asked the Indians not to pay taxes to the British and not to cooperate with the British government in any manner. This movement inspired the Indians and was joined by several youngsters of that time but his withdrawal of the movement due to the Chauri Chaura incident saddened them and they left the path shown by Gandhiji and joined the revolutionary organizations. Asfaqullah Khan, as he hailed from the same place as Ram Prasad Bismil, became friends and together carried out the freedom movement from Shahjahanpur. Although they belonged to different religion,where in Bismil was a Hindu and member of the Arya Samaj and Ashfaqullah Khan was a staunch Muslim ,  it never affected their friendship as their mission was same, i.e. India’s Independence. He supported Ram Prasad Bismil in every revolutionary activity against the colonial rule.

A small incident of friendship between Bismil and Asfaqullah Khan is that once Asfaqullah Khan was suffering from high fever and he was murmuring Ram, my dear Ram. Ashfaq’s parents got worried and thought Ashfaq had been conquered by some evil spirit since he was taking the name of Ram, the Lord of Hindus and soon they called their neighbor and the neighbor secured them clearing up that Ashfaqulla Khan was taking name of Ram Prasad Bismil, his friend whom he addresses as Ram with Love. Bismil was called and Ashfaq’s muttering came to an end and both embraced each other.

Shachindra Nath Sanyal along with Bismil and Asfaqullah Khan together formed the Hindustan Republican Association and their every activity was carried out from Benars, which became their main center. The main objective of forming this revolutionary association was to win freedom for India through armed revolution. The association published a program called Krantikari in 1925 promoting the abolition of inequality and slavery so as to carryout the revolution and they needed money, which they got from Krantikari.

The name of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan is mainly associated with Kakori Train Robbery in 1925. They planned the robbery of the government treasury with the purpose of getting money to purchase arms and ammunition for the armed revolution. The mastermind behind this was Ram Prasad Bismil as he detected that moneybags being taken into the guard’s van and being dropped into an iron safe, while traveling from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow. However, Ashfaq did not support the plan and said that it would be a rushed step and will expose the revolutionaries to direct attack by the British government who will use the whole equipment to mash the revolutionary activities. But they still decided to go ahead with the plan and Ashfaq as well joined the mission. On August 9, 1925, Ashfaqullah Khan along with his comrades namely, Sachindra Bakshi, Ram Prasad Bismil, Chandrasekhar Azad , Thakur Roshan Singh, Banwari Lal , Rajendra Lahiri , Mukundi Lal , Man- mathnath Gupta, Keshab Chakra-varthy, set for their mission and looted the train at Kakori. They captured the train at Kakori, which was coming from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow and Ashfaq with the help of his friends went inside the guard’s van and pushed the bags containing money to the ground and finally managed to flee away with the money contained in the bags. They managed to escape but the Government had made a big plan to catch the revolutionaries and finally they were successful.

On 26th September, 1925, Ram Prasad Bimil was arrested but could not trace Ashfaquallah Khan. He wanted to study engineering abroad so that he can help the freedom struggle of India even better and for that he went to Delhi but was betrayed by his Pathan friend who was to help him with it, by informing the Police about him. Finally, he was arrested but the then superintendent of police, Tasadruk Khan, tried to play caste politics tried to influence him by inciting him against Hindus and told him to give statement against his friend Bismil if he wanted to be released but he denied by saying that “Khan Sahib, I am quite sure that Hindu India will be much better than British India.” Although, some of the eminent lawyers of that time made an attempt to save the revolutionaries but they failed to do so and was given death sentence. Ashfaqullah Khan was hanged till death in the jail of Faizabad in the year 1927.
His dedication and love for the motherland and to the freedom movement deserves appreciation.  His selfless love for the motherland, determination, courage, decisiveness and loyalty were personified made him one of the greatest martyrs. We as Indians should pay tribute and remember him as he is worthy of it for his dignified and gracious qualities.

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