UPSC PRELIMS 2020: Revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan

Revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan

Topic: Revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan

Topic in Syllabus: Indian History

Revolutionary Ashfaqullah Khan


The Uttar Pradesh cabinet recently approved a proposal to set aside Rs 234 crore for a zoological garden spread across 121 acres in Gorakhpur, to be named after the freedom fighter and revolutionary Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan.

Who was Ashfaqullah Khan?

  • Khan was born on October 22, 1900, in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  • He grew up at a time when Mahatma Gandhi had launched the non-cooperation movement and urged Indians not to pay taxes to the government or co-operate with the British.
  • Chauri Chaura incident– Within about 1.5 years of the movement’s launch, in February 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident took place in Gorakhpur.
  • In the incident, large number of non-cooperation protestors clashed with the police and set the police station on fire, killing roughly 22 policemen.
  • Opposed to violence, Gandhi called off the movement.
  • Youth’s reaction– The youth of the country were greatly disappointed and disillusioned with this. Khan was one among these youths.
  • Subsequently, he joined the revolutionaries and became acquainted with Bismil.
  • The  Hindustan Socialist Republican Association– In the mid-1920s, Khan and Bismil went on to found the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), with the aim of winning freedom for the country through an armed revolution.
  • HSRA published a manifesto titled “The Revolutionary” in 1925.

Hindustan Socialist Republican Association:

  • The Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) was a revolutionary party set up by Ram Prasad Bismil and his associates to fight against British colonial rule in India and achieve independence for the country through an armed rebellion if necessary.
  • HSRA published its manifesto titled “The Revolutionary”in 1925, which, among other things, said, “The immediate object of the revolutionary party in the domain of politics is to establish a federal Republic of United State of India by an organized and armed revolution.

HRA Formation

  • The constitution for the HRA was drafted by Bismil in 1923 at Allahabad with the blessing of Lala Har Dayal.
  • Other prominent members of the party were Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee (who was also a member of the Anushilan Samiti).
  • The HRA formed centres at, besides Allahabad, Agra, Kanpur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Shahjahanpur and Saharanpur.
  • It also had bomb manufacturing units at Calcutta and Deogarh.
  • A manifesto for the party was written by Sanyal titled ‘Revolutionary’. It contained incendiary material asking the youth of the country to join the party and take part in the freedom struggle. It did not approve of the methods used by Gandhi and criticised them. The manifesto stated that it sought to achieve a ‘Federal Republic of the United States of India’ after overthrowing British rule.
  • It also demanded universal suffrage. The material espoused a socialist society for India.
  • The pamphlets were distributed in many cities in northern India.
  • In 1924 – 25, many young people joined the party, prominent among them being Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Chandrasekhar Azad.

Why they were hanged?

  • Khan and Bismil were hanged to death because of their contribution in the Kakori Conspiracy in August 1925.
  • In order to fund the activities of the HSRA, Bismil, Khan and over 10 other revolutionaries stopped the Kakori Express, robbed and fled with the cash they received.
  • Bismil was arrested on September 1926 along with the others and the Khan was finally arrested later in Delhi.
  • After 1.5 years of trail, they were sentenced to death in 1927.

What was the Kakori Conspiracy?

  • In August 1925, an armed robbery took place on board the Kakori Express which was going from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow.
  • It was carrying money that had been collected at various railway stations and was to be deposited in Lucknow.
  • In this planned robbery, carried out to fund the activities of the HSRA, Bismil, Khan and over 10 other revolutionaries stopped the train and fled with the cash they found in it.
  • Within a month of the robbery, many members of the HSRA were arrested.
  • In September 1926, Bismil was arrested but Khan was on the run.
  • He hid in a sugarcane field half a mile from his home for some time, before he left for Bihar and then Delhi, where he was finally arrested.
  • The trial for the case went on for about 1.5 years.
  • It ended in April 1927, with Bismil, Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh sentenced to death, and the others given life sentences.


Sample Question:

Consider the following statements regarding Ashfaqullah Khan:

  1. He was one of the earliest revolutionaries who used violent means during World War 1 for attaining Independence.
  2. His life ended when he was sentenced to Death in Kakori Robbery Case.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer:  B