One of the most significant events of Bharat’s freedom struggle was the Kakori incident carried out on August 9th, 1925. Apart from getting the funds for the armed revolution against the Britishers, it was also intended to get it noticed by the common people, and give a jolt to the British. The mastermind of the operation were Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan and one of the main persons in that incident was Rajendra Nath Lahiri.
Rajendra Nath Lahiri was born on June 29, 1901 in the village of Mohanpur, Pabna district (now in Bangladesh) to Kshiti Mohan Lahiri and Basant Kumari. At the time of his birth, his father was in prison along with his elder brother, for participating in the activities of the banned Anushilan Samiti.
Imbibed with the spirit of patriotism when he was just 9 years, he went to his maternal uncle’s home in Varanasi. His education was primarily in Kashi and he joined MA (History) in BHU. This was the time when he met the famous revolutionary Sachindranath Sanyal. Recognizing the patriotism, revolutionary spirit and passion for freedom in Rajendra Nath, Sachindranath made him the editor of the magazine Banga Vaani, as well as the coordinator and arms in-charge for the Varanasi branch of the Anushilan Samiti.
His dedication to the cause, ensured Rajendra Nath got an invite to the secret meetings of the Hindustan Republican Association too. His love for Bengali literature and reading made him open a small library in the name of his mother. He was also in charge of the Bengali Sahitya Parishad at BHU. He also was the one who came up with the handwritten letters of the revolutionaries in Kashi. His endeavor was to ensure that the revolutionaries in Benares, could express their thoughts through their handwritten letters.
Role in Kakori Incident
When the Kakori incident was planned, he played an important role. When Ashfaqullah Khan was initially sceptical of the proposal, feeling it would bring undue attention to the revolutionaries. It was Rajendra Nath Lahiri, who stood ground and forced Ashfaq to reconsider.
As per the plan, he was the one who pulled the chain at Kakori station on August 9, 1925, giving signal to Bismil, Ashfaqullah, Chandrashekhar Azad and 10 others to rob the bags containing the money.
After the Kakori incident, Bismil sent him to Bengal to learn bomb making, which is where the Dakshineshwar incident took place. He had just gathered all the material necessary for making the bombs, when due to the carelessness of another revolutionary, a bomb went off. The loud explosion alerted the police and Rajendra was arrested along with 9 others.
Sentenced to 10 years in prison, the British Government however, filed a lawsuit against the revolutionaries for the Kakori incident. Accusing them of launching war against the British crown and looting the treasury, the revolutionaries were declared guilty through fabricated evidences and false witnesses. Rajendra Nath was bought to Lucknow and put in the prison there.
In spite of many appeals and arguments, the British Government refused to reconsider its stand and Rajendra Nath Lahiri along with Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and Roshan Singh were sentenced to death by hanging. While the others were to be hanged on December 19, Lahiri was to be hanged 2 days earlier on December 17, at the Gonda district jail.
December 17, 1927– the day when he was to be hanged, Rajendra Nath Lahiri was doing his usual exercises in the morning. When the jailor asked him, why he was doing so even on his last day, Lahiri replied,
Jailor Saab, I am a Hindu, I believe in rebirth. I want to be born with a physically fit body in my next birth, so that I can complete my unfinished tasks. Today is the most glorious day of my life, how can I forgo my daily routine. I am not dying, but I shall once again be reborn in a free Bharat.
Rajendra Nath Lahiri, went to the gallows with a smile on his lips, kissed the rope, shouted Vande Mataram. Another great son of Bharat, had given up his life for the country’s freedom.
Rajendra Nath Lahirí’s sacrifice is observed every year on December 17 as Lahiri Diwas, in Gonda district. Cultural activities are observed in Gonda district jail in his honor and a yagna is conducted in front of his statue there. There is also a memorial in his honor there.
Naman to the brave son of Bharat on his punya tithi (death anniversary).
(This article first appeared on the blog of the author.)
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