Ram Prasad Bismil was an Indian freedom fighter who was involved in the Mainpuri Conspiracy in 1918 and known for being the mastermind of the famous Kakori train robbery in 1925. He was a revolutionary who struggled for the freedom of India from the British Raj and was hanged on 19 December 1927. Bismil was a great writer and a poet who used to write patriotic poems using his pen names Ram, Agyat, and Bismil. However, he was popular with his pseudonym ‘Bismil.’ Ram Prasad was highly inspired by a book titled “Satyarth Prakash” that was written by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Bismil was a follower of the Arya Samaj movement. A renowned religious preacher of Arya Samaj named Swami Somdev was his mentor. Bismil was secretly associated with the Indian freedom fighter Lala Har Dayal through Somdev. Ram Prasad Bismil was one of the founders of the Hindustan Republican Association.
Ram Prasad Bismil was born on Friday, 11 June 1897 (age 30 years; at the time of death) in Shahjahanpur, North-Western Provinces, British India. His zodiac sign was Gemini. In childhood, Bismil was taught Hindi by his father at home, and he learnt Urdu from a local moulvi. Later, he was sent to an English-language school named Mission School for further education, and he passed 8th class in the first division. Thereafter, he attained his further school education from a local government school in Shahjahanpur. Poem Hunter Soon, he became a member of the Arya Samaj movement in Shahjahanpur. The Wire
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Ram Prasad Bismil belonged to the Brahmin family of Uttar Pradesh. Waiting for Swaraj: Inner Lives of Indian Revolutionaries
Parents & Siblings
His father name was Murlidhar, and his mother’s name was Moolmati.
Bismil had two brothers and the name of one of his brothers was Ramesh Singh. He had five sisters, and the names of three of his sisters were Shastri Devi, Brahmadevi, and Bhagwati Devi.
His grandfather’s name was Narayan Lal, and his grandmother’s name was Vichita Devi. The name of his uncle was Kalyanmal.
Meeting with Swami Somdev
At the age of 18, when Bismil was a student of 9th class, he came to know about the death sentence of the Bhai Parmanand during his participation in India’s independence. Parmanand was a group member of Indian activist and freedom fighter ‘Lala Har Dayal.’ Bhai Parmanand was also a great Indian scholar and a follower of the Arya Samaj movement. Swami Somdev was the friend of Bhai Parmanand. They all used to meet at the Arya Samaj temple at Shahjahanpur regularly. On the death sentence of Bhai Parmanand, in a fit of anger, Bismil wrote a Hindi poem titled Mera Janm (My Birth). Soon, he showed his patriotic poetry to Swami Somdev. The poetry narrated a severe commitment to uproot the English empire from the motherland. After reading the poem, Somdev told Bismil,
Ram Prasad! I know that you are very much hurt by heart and accordingly you have chosen your pen name as ‘Bismil’. Your poem is also full of patriotic feelings and your views are very clear but, my dear child! it is not so easy to fulfill the commitment until a solid determination does not sustain in your heart and mind.”
However, the advice given by Somdev did not deviate Bismil from the commitment of freedom to the motherland. Later, Swami Somdev advised Bismil to participate in the Indian National Congress of 1916 after realising the revolutionary flame in the heart of Bismil. Poem Hunter
Joining the Lucknow Congress
In 1917, Ram Prasad Bismil quit his studies and shifted to Lucknow with his companions. During this time, the Liberal group of leaders in Uttar Pradesh were protesting against Bal Gangadhar Tilak and his political parade; however, the Moderate group leaders tried hard to welcome their leader in the city. Ram Prasad Bismil, along with his senior, an M.A. student, helped the procession of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the whole city. Thereafter, Ram Prasad Bismil came into the limelight due to his participation in revolutionary activities. This also helped many youths from all across India to follow him. During his work in the Indian National Congress of Lucknow, he was involved in publishing a Hindi book based on American Independence titled America Ki Swatantrata Ka Itihas. This book was released with the name of a fictitious writer named ‘Babu Harivans Sahai, B.A.’ and publishing house – Somdev Siddhgopal Shukla. Soon, the Uttar Pradesh government prohibited this book to be sold in the city or all across India.
Soon, after Bismil began participating in Indian independence movements, he established his own revolutionary organisation named Matrivedi. He formed this organisation with the help of a local school teacher named Pandit Genda Lal Dixit at Auraiya. Swami Somdev gave the reference of Dixit to Bismil. In the meantime, Bismil succeeded in gathering some arms and weapons, and he received the support of Pt. Genda Lal Dixit to have contacts with the local powerful dacoits in the state. The arms and weapons were to be utilised against the British empire in the country. Soon, Pandit Genda Lal Dixit also established an armed organisation named ‘Shivaji Samiti’ to struggle against the Britishers. This Samiti was named after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Later, they together united the youths of several locations of the state like Etawah, Mainpuri, Agra, and Shahjahanpur districts of United Province (now Uttar Pradesh) to reinforce their organisation.
Labelled as Absconder
A pamphlet titled “Deshvasiyon Ke Nam Sandesh” was distributed by Ram Prasad Bismil to the general public on 28 January 1918. This pamphlet was published along with his poem titled “Mainpuri Ki Pratigya.” In 1918, Bismil and his party companions robbed the local villages three times to finance their organisation. Soon, the search operations were ordered by the British government to find Bismil and his group members, and on the other hand, Bismil was busy distributing the book to the general public that was prohibited by the Uttar Pradesh government, which was working under the Delhi Congress in 1918. Soon, police found Bismil and his companions and many unsold books were recovered from them. Later, Bismil was planning another robbery at Delhi and Agra; but the police traced their whereabouts. To escape arrest, Bismil jumped into the Yamuna river and was assumed dead in the encounter by his companions. On the other side, Dixit was captured by the police and was sent to jail at Agra fort. Soon, he fled from police custody and lived underground in Delhi. Both of them were charged with criminal cases. This incident is popularly named as “Mainpuri Conspiracy” against the English rule in India. The Judiciary Magistrate of Mainpuri ‘B.S. Chris’ declared Dixit and Bismil as ‘absconders’ in his judgement on 1 November 1919 as the British personnel were unable to find them in spite of all efforts.
After the judgement, Ram Prasad Bismil stayed underground during the years 1919 and 1920. He continuously hid at several locations of Uttar Pradesh like Rampur Jagir or Jahangir village at Gautam Budh Nagar district in Greater Noida, Kosma village of Mainpuri district, Bah and Pinahat of Agra district of Uttar Pradesh. During this time, he also went to his own village named Barbai Morena district in Madhya Pradesh. At home, he received some money from his mother. During this period, he penned several books titled ‘Man Ki Lahar’ – a collection of poems, Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot – a revolutionary novel, Yogik Sadhan – a booklet of yoga, Catherine or Swadhinta Ki Devi – an autobiography of Catherine. Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot and Yogik Sadhan were the translated books from the Bengali language to Hindi and ‘Catherine’ was translated from English. ‘Man Ki Lahar’ was a set of poems written by him. He translated several other patriotic books into Hindi and English. In his autobiography, he mentioned that he used to graze his cattle while writing the books under the babul tree with a book and a pencil.
Establishment of the Hindustan Republican Association
Ram Prasad Bismil and his companions who were involved in the Mainpuri plotting were released in February 1920. Bismil went back to his home Shahjahanpur. The official statement of Ram Prasad was recorded by the police officials and the court. In the statement, he pledged that he would not participate in any revolutionary activities in future. In 1921, Ram Prasad Bismil actively attended the campaigns led by Ahmedabad Congress. He was also invited to present as a senior leader along with the senior Congress leader Prem Krishna Khanna and the revolutionary Ashfaqulla Khan. Bismil was one of the revolutionaries who actively involved in endorsing the ‘Poorna Swaraj’ proposal that was passed in the General meeting of Congress in 1921. Bismil played a crucial role in the Congress government with Maulana Hasrat Mohani. However, initially, Mahatma Gandhi was not in favour of the ‘Poorna Swaraj’ proposal. Bismil came back to Shahjahanpur and persuaded the youth of Uttar Pradesh to become hostile against the British government. In a statement given by Banarsi Lal to the court about Ram Prasad Bismil, he stated,
Ram Prasad used to say that independence would not be achieved by means of non-violence.” Way Back Machine
In February 1922, several protesting farmers were fired by the police during the Chauri Chaura incident in Uttar Pradesh while participating in the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. In response to the killing of farmers, 22 policemen were burnt alive in the police station by the angered public. As a consequence, Mahatma Gandhi halted the non-cooperation movement without determining the actual facts behind the incident. In the same year, Bismil and his companions strongly opposed Mahatma Gandhi and his immediate decision on the non-cooperation movement at the Gaya session of the Indian National Congress. Later, the president of the non-cooperation movement named Chittranjan Das resigned from the post when Gandhi refused to take back his decision on the non-cooperation movement. Moti Lal Nehru and Chittranjan Das founded a new independent party in joint leadership with the rich group of freedom fighters. In 1923, Bismil and his revolutionary companions also formed the Hindustan Republican Association. In the same year, Lala Har Dayal advised Ram Prasad Bismil to draft the constitution of his own party in 1923 along with his companions Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Dr Jadugopal Mukherjee. Soon, a yellow page was used to represent the name and aims of the party. On 3 October 1924, Constitutional Committee Meeting was organised at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Sachindra Nath Sanyal was the chairman to head the meeting and to finalise the name of the party. Soon, it was decided that the name of the party was the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). After the formation of the party, Ram Prasad Bismil was given the responsibility of the Arms Divison, District Organiser of Shahjahanpur, and the Provincial Organiser of Agra and Oudh in Uttar Pradesh state. The other members of the group such as Sachindra Nath Sanyal were given the responsibility of National Organiser, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee was chosen as the Coordinator of Anushilan Samiti. Both Sanyal and Chatterjee were given the responsibility to head the Bengal region to spread motives of the Hindustan Republican Association organisation.
Proclamation of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA)
In January 1925, the news was circulated through a pamphlet to the general public of the United Province of British India while referring to evidence on a “White Leaflet” that the conspirators of Kakori train robbery issued a Manifesto of a new revolutionary party named the Hindustan Republican Association. The original hard copy of the manifesto was with Manmath Nath Gupta, and it consisted of four typed pages that were circulated secretly by post or by hands across the districts of the United Province of British India as well as all over India by the members of the group. The printing press was not mentioned on the four pages. “The Revolutionary” (An Organ of the Revolutionary Party of India) was the heading on the top of the manifesto. On 1 January 1925, this manifesto was first published.
Kakori Train Robbery
On 9 August 1925, Ram Prasad Bismil and his companions executed the Kakori train robbery by looting the government treasury near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. Total ten revolutionaries of the Hindustan Republican Association were involved in stopping the 8 Down Saharanpur-Lucknow passenger train at Kakori, a station just before the Lucknow Railway Junction. Reportedly, the arms used to execute the robbery plan were German-made Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistols. Ashfaqulla Khan, who was the lieutenant of Ram Prasad Bismil, along with Manmath Nath Gupta broke the opening of the money box that was kept in the cabin of the train guard. Apparently, Manmath Nath Gupta who was curiously watching his gun accidentally fired a passenger named Ahmed Ali, who came out of the train to see his wife in the ladies compartment. After the Kakori train robbery, forty people were arrested by the police whereas only ten missionaries were involved in the train dacoity. Soon, it was in the news that some of the arrested people were completely unrelated to the incident. Later, some of the innocent prisoners were released. The public prosecutor appointed by the British government for this case was Jagat Narain Mulla who was offered incredible fees. On the other side, Dr Harkaran Nath Mishra (Barrister M.L.A.) and Dr Mohan Lal Saxena (M.L.C.) were given the charge of the defence counsel. Perspectives in Indian History Advocates Govind Ballabh Pant, Chandra Bhanu Gupta, and Kripa Shankar Hajela were also appointed to the panel. The subsequent appeals lodged by the accused failed. The final appeal that was filed on 16 September 1927 in London, which was forwarded to the Privy Council was also rejected. The legal process continued for a straight one and a half years. Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Roshan Singh and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were sentenced to death by the British government. On 19 December 1927, all the accused were hanged but at different locations. Ram Prasad Bismil was hanged at Gorakhpur Jail, Ashfaqulla Khan at the Faizabad Jail, Thakur Roshan Singh at Naini Allahabad Jail, and Lahiri was hanged till death on 17 December 1927 at Gonda Jail.
Ram Prasad Bismil wrote a pamphlet titled ‘Deshvasiyon Ke Nam Sandesh’ and the books titled ‘Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot,’ and ‘Yogik Sadhan.’ His collection of poems included ‘Man Ki Lahar’ and ‘Swadeshi Rang. ‘Swadhinta ki Devi: Catherine’ was translated by him from English to Hindi when he went underground. He also wrote his autobiography when he was prisoned at the Gorakhpur jail by the British government after Kakori Train Conspiracy. In 1928, his autobiography was published under the title ‘Kakori Ke Shaheed’ by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. After Ram Prasad Bismil’s death, the British government also released a rough translation of his autobiography for its criminal investigation purposes in Uttar Pradesh. This translation was circulated among British personnel throughout the country as a secret official document.
Ram Prasad Bismil was hanged by the British government on 19 December 1927 at Gorakhpur, United Provinces, British India. The body of Ram Prasad Bismil was sent to the Rapti river for cremation according to the Hindu rituals. Later, the site of his cremation was renamed Rajghat.
On 18 December 1994, the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh Motilal Vora inaugurated the marble statue of Ram Prasad Bismil on Bismil’s 69th death anniversary. ‘Amar Shaheed Ram Prasad Bismil Smarak’ was built by Shaheed Smarak Samiti of Shahjahanpur at Khirni Bagh mohalla of Shahjahanpur city where Ram Prasad Bismil was born.
‘Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil Railway Station’ was constructed by the Northern Railway zone of Indian Railways in the Shahjahanpur district. On 19 December 1983, this Railway Station was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi.
On 19 December 1997, a postal stamp was issued by the Government of India on Ram Prasad Bismil’s birth centenary year.
Later, a park was named after him by the government of Uttar Pradesh. ‘Amar Shaheed Pt. Ram Prasad Bismil Udyan’ was built near Rampur Jagir village where Ram Prasad Bismil lived underground after escaping from the police in the Mainpuri conspiracy in 1919.
- One of the elder brothers of Ram Prasad Bismil died in infancy because of the lack of medical facilities in the area. The same situation was faced by the parents of Bismil after the birth of Ram Prasad Bismil; however, this time the grandfather of Ram Prasad Bismil applied supernatural forces and practices to save the life of the infant Ram Prasad Bismil. The Indian Express
- Ram Prasad Bismil mentioned in his autobiography that at the age of fourteen, he fell into bad company and used to steal money from his parents. However, he further added that mostly he used the stolen money to buy books and novels that he loved to read. During the same time, he caught the bad habit of smoking. As he grew up, this habit grew so much that he used to smoke around 50-60 cigarettes a day. Later, after this high time, he came in contact with Munshi Indrajit and the Arya Samaj movement that helped him to get rid of these bad habits. The Indian Express
- In his autobiography, he narrated an incident that after the Kakori train robbery, Bismil tried hard to escape the arrest; however, the police succeeded in chasing him and reached his place at four in the morning on 26 October 1925, and this time Bismil surrendered without making an attempt to escape.
- After Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested by the Britishers on 26 October 1925, he was sent to Gorakhpur jail. After failing the court case, Bismil came to know about his death penalty through the District Collector. Later, Bismil was given an offer to escape the death sentence by the Britishers. He was told by police personnel that if he give a statement in relation to the ‘Bolsheviks’ in Bengal then he would be given very moderate punishment and would be sent to England soon after the end of the case.
- Ram Prasad Bismil dedicated an entire chapter in his autobiography to his close companion Ashfaqulla Khan who ignored the family and Muslim community pressure and still remained a friend of Bismil till his last breath.
- At the end of his autobiography, Ram Prasad Bismil narrated an incident that a policeman did not tie Bismil in chains and went to watch a wrestling match after his arrest in the Kakori train robbery case. The policeman trusted Ram Prasad Bismil so much, and Bismil also did not try to escape and betray the policeman when he got the chance to escape and save himself from the death sentence.
- Bhagat Singh was a follower of Ram Prasad Bismil. Singh used to praise Bismil for his writings and poems. Bismil was a Hindi and Urdu writer. He translated the book, Catherine, from English, and Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot from Bengali to Urdu and Hindi languages.
- Ram Prasad Bismil fell in the company of bad students at Islamia School of Shahjahanpur. He used to read romantic poetry books and cheap novels that badly affected his academic performance. Poem Hunter Bismil failed in seventh class two times. Therefore, he was sent to an English school named Mission school.
- A book titled ‘Kranti Geetanjali’ was written by Ram Prasad Bismil, which was published in 1929 after his death. This book was prohibited to be sold by the British Government in 1931.
- The famous poem Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna, Man Ki Lahar, and Swadeshi Rang were composed by Ram Prasad Bismil against the British Raj in India. These poems were first released in the journal “Sabah” from Delhi.
- Ram Prasad Bismil sold the books written by him to purchase the first weapon to fight against British Raj in India.
- Ram Prasad Bismil’s mother went to Gorakhpur jail a day before his martyrdom. Reportedly, she was a brave mother, who did not lose patience while watching tears in Bismil’s eyes. She said to him,
Hey, I used to think that my son is very brave and the British government also trembles in his name. I didn’t know he was so scared of death! If you had to be hanged like this, then why did you choose the path of revolution? Then you should not have stepped on this path at all.”
He was crying not because of the fear of death but due to the separation from a brave mother.
- Apart from being a writer and a poet, Bismil also wrote several quotes. Some of his famous quotes are written below.
I believe, I will be reborn again, to serve my motherland again. I agree to die thousands of times for my motherland, without thinking about the pain. Oh God! Allow me to be born again multiple times, even after dying continuously. I will abolish the name of slavery from society, and I will bring freedom there. Dear youths, sacrifice your life for the motherland, and she’ll bless you.
- Reportedly, in the early morning of 19 December 1927, jail authorities went to take Bismil for hanging remained surprised when they saw Bismil in a pleasant mood while working out. The jailer asked Bismil the reason behind the heavy workout even before being hanged. Bismil then replied with a smile on his face,
I am exercising so that I remain healthy in my next birth and destroy the British empire.”