Ram Prasad Bismil (11 June 1897 – 19 December 1927)
Rama Prasad was born at Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh in 1897. Ram Prasad’s father Muralidhar was a simple man. He had only a little education and was employed in Shahjahanpur Municipality. He was tired of service and switched over to an independent life. He began to lend money on interest and hired out carts for his livelihood.In Ram Prasad Bismil’s seventh year his father started teaching him Hindi. He was also sent to a Moulvi to learn Urdu. Later he was sent to an english medium school. While studying in this school, he kept his pen-name as ‘Bismil’ and continued writing patriotic poetry. As an 18 year old student, Bismil read of the death sentence passed on Bhai Parmanand, a scholar and companion of Lala Har Dayal. At that time he was regularly attending the Arya Samaj Temple at Shahjahanpur daily, where Swami Somdev, a friend of Paramanand, was staying.
As an 18 year old student, Bismil read of the death sentence passed on Bhai Parmanand, a scholar and companion of Lala Har Dayal. At that time he was regularly attending the Arya Samaj Temple at Shahjahanpur daily, where Swami Somdev, a friend of Paramanand, was staying. Angered by the sentence, Bismil composed a poem in Hindi titled Mera Janm (My Birth), which he showed to Somdev and which demonstrated a commitment to remove the British control over India.
Bismil left school in the following year and traveled to Lucknow with some friends. The Naram Dal (of the Indian National Congress) was not prepared to allow the Garam Dal to stage a grand welcome of Tilak in the city. Bismil and a senior student of M.A. laid down the car of Tilak and lead the procession of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the entire city. Bismil was highlighted there and so many youths from all over India became his fans.
On 28 January 1918, Bismil published a pamphlet titled Deshvasiyon Ke Nam Sandesh (A Message to Countrymen), which he distributed along with his poem Mainpuri Ki Pratigya (Vow of Mainpuri). In order to collect funds for the party looting was undertaken on three occasions in 1918. Police searched for them in and around Mainpuri while they were selling books proscribed by the U.P. Government in the Delhi Congress of 1918. When police found them, Bismil absconded with the books unsold. When he was planning another looting between Delhi and Agra, a police team arrived and firing started from both the sides. Bismil jumped into the Yamuna and swam underwater. The police and his companions thought that he had died in the encounter.
From 1919 to 1920 Bismil remained inconspicuous, moving around various villages in Uttar Pradesh and producing several books. Among these was a collection of poems written by him and others, entitled Man Ki Lahar, while he also translated two works from Bengali (Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot and Yogik Sadhan) and fabricated Catherine or Swadhinta Ki Devi from an English text. Another of Bismil’s books, Kranti Geetanjali, was published in 1929 after his death and was proscribed by British Raj in 1931.
In February 1920, when all the prisoners in the Mainpuri conspiracy case were freed, Bismil returned home to Shahjahanpur, where he agreed with the official authorities that he would not participate in revolutionary activities.
In February 1922 some agitating farmers were killed in Chauri Chaura by the police. The police station of Chauri Chaura was attacked by the people and 22 policemen were burnt alive. Gandhi, without ascertaining the facts behind this incident, declared an immediate stop the non-cooperation movement without consulting any executive committee member of the Congress. Bismil and his group of youths strongly opposed Gandhi in the Gaya session of Indian National Congress (1922). When Gandhi refused to rescind his decision, its then president Chittranjan Das resigned and the Indian National Congress was divided into two groups – the Naram Dal and the Garam Dal. In January 1923, the rich group of party formed a new Swaraj Party under the joint leadership of Pt. Moti Lal Nehru and Chittranjan Das, and the youth group formed a revolutionary party under the leadership of Bismil.
Ram Prasad Bismil was a brave revolutionary who gave up his life smilingly for the sake of the Motherland. He was persecuted by an enraged foreign government, hunted by the police and betrayed by follow workers. And yet he lit the fire of revolution to bum down the slavery. He was the brave leader of the Kakori Rail Dacoity episode. His poetry is also a lamp lighted at the altar of the Motherland. Kakori is a village near Lucknow. It became famous because the attack on the train took place nearby.
Bismil executed a meticulous plan for looting the government treasury carried in a train at Kakori, near Lucknow in U.P. This historical event happened on August 9, 1925 and is known as the Kakori conspiracy. Ten revolutionaries stopped the 8 Down Saharanpur-Lucknow passenger train at Kakori – a station just before the Lucknow Railway Junction. German-made Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistols were used in this action. Ashfaqulla Khan, the lieutenant of the HRA Chief Ram Prasad Bismil gave away his Mauser to Manmath Nath Gupta and engaged himself to break open the cash chest. Eagerly watching a new weapon in his hand, Manmath Nath Gupta fired the pistol and incidentally a passenger Ahmed Ali, who got down the train to see his wife in ladies compartment, was killed in this rapid action.
More than 40 revolutionaries were arrested and a criminal conspiracy case was filed against 28 members of HRA. Govind Vallabh Pant, Chandra Bhanu Gupta, Mohan Lal Saxena and Kripa Shankar Hajela defended the accused, who included Bismil, Roshan Singh and Ashfaquallah Khan. The men were found guilty and subsequent appeals failed. On 16 September 1927, a final appeal for clemency was forwarded to the Privy Council in London but that also failed.
Following 18 months of legal process, Bismil, Khan, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were sentenced to death. Bismil was hanged on 19 December 1927 at Gorakhpur Jail, Khan at the Faizabad Jail and Roshan Singh at Naini Allahabad Jail. Lahiri had been hanged two days earlier at Gonda Jail.
Bismil’s body was taken to the Rapti river for a Hindu cremation, and the site became known as Rajghat. A new Transport Nagar has been developed in the side bye area of this place. A Rajghat police station has also been established there to commemorate the historical place.
Ramaprasad Bismil lives forever in our memory as a revolutionary, as a revolutionary writer/poet and, above all, as an ideal human being. “Even if I have to face death a thousand times for the sake of my Motherland I shall not be sorry. Oh Lord! Grant me a hundred births in Bharath. But grant me this, too, that each time I may give up my life in the service of the Motherland.”
This prayer should echo in each and every soul in free India.
A collection by Upendra kumar.