Delhi Conspiracy Commission

Delhi Conspiracy Commission

The Chief Commissioner of Delhi, exercising his special powers under section 3(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, issued an order dated April 9, 1930 constituting a commission, which was known as the Delhi Conspiracy Commission. The Commission was directed that certain persons shall be tried by it for the offence of conspiring to wage a war against the British King. The number of accused to be tried by the Commission was 24 in all. Out of these 24 persons, 14 were arrested and produced before the Commission, while 9 were declared absconding and 1 had died. Though only 24 persons were accused of the offence, during the trial it transpired that there were a large number of persons who had participated in the venture. It was an Indian revolutionary movement directed against the British to win India's freedom by violent revolutionary means.


Constitution of the Commission

The three-member Commission was constituted of Mr. L.S.White - President, Mr. Kanwar Sain - Member and Mr. Amir Ali - Member. During the trial of the accused persons, the Crown was represented by Chaudhary Zafarullah Khan, Bar-at-Law with Khan Sahib Mohamed Amin and Sardar Bhag Singh, Court Inspector. The accused were represented by Mr. Asaf Ali, Bar-at-Law with Mr. B. Banarji and Mr. Baljit Singh.

Accused before the Commission

On 14 May 1931, the following 9 accused were present before the Commission: Mr. N.K.Nigam, Mr. B.R. Gupta, Mr. Rudra Dutt Mishra, Mr. Bhagirath Lal, Mr. Hardwari Lal Gupta, Mr. K. R. Gupta, Mr. Harkesh Singh, Gajanand Potdar and Mr. Kapur Chand.

Commencement of the trial

On that day, the crown put an approver Mr. Kailashpati as a wtness of the alleged crime in the witness box and proceeded to administer an oath before examining him. On this, Mr. Asaf Ali, representing the accused persons, raised an objection to the oath being administered on the ground that there was no legal proof that a pardon has been tendered to and accepted by Mr. Kailashpati; that till such proof was forthcoming he could not be regarded as a witness (to whom the oath must be administered under the Indian Oaths Act); that he was therefore an accused person and that the administeration of an oath to him was contrary to the provisions of section 342 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The objection was opposed by the crown on the ground that the proceedings of the Magistrate, which purported to record the tender of a pardon to Mr. Kailashpati and its acceptance by him, were a part of the record put before the Commission and were sufficient proof that the pardon had been tendered and accepted; and that in any case Mr. Kailashpati was not an accused before the Commission and therefore the provisions contained in section 342 (4) of the Code did not apply in the case.

On the contentions of the parties, the Commission observed that in view of its decision it had arrived at on the objection raised by the defence it was not necessary for it to find out whether the pardon had been tendered or accepted; that section 342 (2) of the Code could not apply to Mr. Kailashpati; that Mr. Kailashpati had not been made an accused person in this case and the Commission had not taken cognizance of any offence alleged to have committed by him, although it is alleged that he had been a party to the offences for which the accused before the Commission had been placed on trial and that he could also have been placed on trial with them for those offences; that in no sense he was an accused person before the court to whom an oath could not be administered. Thus, the Commission overruled the objection and directed the administration of an oath to him.

Evidence produced before the Commission

The oath was administered to him on 14 May 1931. he gave his name as Kailashpati Asthana son of Hirday Narain, age 24 years, caste Kayasth, resident of village Muftiganj in District Jaunpur in U.P. His memory was phenomenal and he gave such a vast volume of detailed information on every minor and major subject, which ran into about 900 pages of deposition by way of examination, cross examination and re-examination, that it became impossible for the prosecution to tie the loose ends of the story to secure conviction for the accused. It was primarily for this reason that at the final stage of the trial, the Commission was disbanded by the Government before a verdict could be given by it.

The prosecution in addition to Kailashpati also presented other approvers in support of its case of the alleged offences. Girwar Singh son of Ghasi Ram, caste Rajput, aged 22 or 23 years, resident of village Harra Police Station Sardhana District Meerut in U.P. was also tendered pardon by the Magistrate, which was accepted by him, and was produced on 24 February 1932 by the prosecution in support of its case.

Another approver Dandpani Venkat Tailang son of Venkat Rao Gopal Tailang, aged 21 or 22 years, caste Dakshni Brahmin, resident of Jhansi in U.P. was examined by the prosecution on 8 March 1932. Yet another approver examined was P.W. 14 Ram Lal son of Ganga Ram, caste Chhatri, aged 23 years, student, resident of Saugor.Approver Madan Gopal son of B. Kishan Lal aged 24 years, Caste Yadav, occupation dairy-man, resident of Ajmere in Rajputana was also examined as P.W. 15 by the Crown.

Approver Bal Kishon (alias Kishen Bal) son of Ramji Lal Sharma, Caste Brahmin, aged 24 years, occupation Compounder, resident of village Khaira District Meerut in U.P. was examined as Prosecution Witness 16.

Credibility of the approvers and the assessment of their worth

All these approvers testified before the Commission for the prosecution and against their own countrymen who were fellow-revolutionaries and were accused of waging a war against the British rulers to free their country. Neither then nor now would these persons earn any sympathy from their countrymen. But one could not be oblivious of human nature. In judging their conduct, we have to place them in their circumstances of the time and then look at them to understand their behavior. No one can deny that each one of them had chosen, and voluntarily, to involve himself in the activities that were obviously extremely dangerous for their own and their families’ security. They were all young men of 21 to 24 years. The decision on their part to involve them in the revolutionary activities was a courageous act, which was solely motivated by nothing else but by a patriotic urge. How many of our own family members then had that courage, is a question that propels us to think beyond their supposed treachery to their mother land and make them legitimate object of our sympathy. They are reviled by time and they need rehabilitation by history.

Secondly, by going through the “Proceedings of the Delhi Conspiracy Commission” one is not left in any doubt that each of these approvers tried to mislead the Crown, to create the confusion of facts in the fond hope that this confusion would help the accused – their own revolutionary friends and well-wishers of the mother land – in getting an acquittal and, very importantly, to spread the revolutionary message through their statements, albeit confessional to the crime in nature, among the Indian youths. It was observed by the Commission again and again that the approvers concerned did not give prompt reply to the questions put to them; that they gave irrelevant details, that they reflected a lot before giving answers to simple questions and that a question had to be repeated several times to get straight answer. This was their device to help their once-friends and their country. And, the history is witness, their hope of providing some help to their once-revolutionary friends in the difficult situation of the moment proved correct; the Commission was not in the position on the testimony of the approvers to convict any of the accused. The State was ultimately forced to disband the Commission and launch separate prosecution against each of the accused and, of course, against all those persons whose revolutionary activities had come to the light during the Commission’s proceedings. One such case was that of Babu Ram Charan Singh. The approver Bal Kishan (a compounder by occupation) had deposed that he was staying with Babu Ram Charan and that he was coming after applying dressing to Babu Ram Charan Singh when he was arrested on the way. Bal Kishan was forced to lead the police to the house of Babu Ram Charan Singh and his house was searched. The occupant was not found at the house. The police later on arrested Babu Ram Charan Singh from his native village Barkali in district Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and it was found that his hand was injured in some bomb explosion and that Bal Kishan was applying dressing to this injury. Babu Ram Charan Singh was put to a trial in Delhi in 1932 on the sedition charges and this case came to be known as “the Delhi Bomb Case”. Other details about this case would follow in this article. This one case is an example of how separate trials were launched by the Crown against individual accused and how the once-revolutionaries-turned-approvers tried to mislead the Commission and helped disband it.

Thirdly, the approvers were human beings, as vulnerable to threats, torture, inducements, tricks and the effects of psychological weapons as any human being could be. The persons who were involved in the Delhi Conspiracy could be divided into three classes: the persons who made the extreme sacrifice by voluntarily courting death when it became necessary to do so; the persons who did not betray the cause of revolution and voluntarily suffered extreme pains for their beliefs and actions: and, the persons who were motivated by the revolutionary patriotism, took part in the revolutionary activities, suffered its concomitant hardships but at the time of crucial test showed the normal human weakness. The approvers belonged to the third class; we must admit they fought and we must agree they were weak.

This brings us to the question: what is the worth of their statements? How credible are they in their statements? When the statements of these different approvers are compared and collated with each other and examined critically, they throw new light on some old issues presumed to be long-settled, many mistakes of the historical record stand corrected, many new facts and secrets, and many new personalities and events, which have been consigned to the historical oblivion, come to light of the day. From the historical point of view, their statements, when critically examined from this angle, provide us invaluable information about the personalities involved and the insight and motives guiding the Indian revolutionary movement. The next section follows the revolutionary events connected with the Delhi Conspiracy Case.

Robbing of Barhelganj post office

The first duty of H.S.R.A. (Hindustan Socialist Republican Association) was to free India from the foreign yoke. The object of the Association was to be achieved by armed revolution. Mr. Kailaspati, who was to turn approver later on, was initiated into revolutionary activities of the party in 1923 when Sailendranath Chakravarti gave him to read “Bandi Jiwan” (a popular revolutionary book highlighting the plight of India under British rule). In March 1928 M.P. Avasthi told Kailaspati, who was employed with post office at Gorakhpur, that he ought to help the party by taking money from the post office. Avashti brought him a bicycle to enable him to get away with the money. But he did not get an opportunity to get away with the money from the post office at Gorakhpur. In the meantime he was transferred to a branch office of the post office at Barhelganj. There Surendranath Pandey brought him a letter from Bijoy Kumar Sinha, instructing him to take the money to Kanpur as quickly as possible. On 26 June 1928 at about 11 AM, Kailaspati took Rs. 3100/- or 3200/- from the Barhelganj post office, which was the total amount available then in the post office. Kailaspati went along with the money through Barhaj Bazar and reached Lar Road railway station at about 8 p.m. The train reached the station at 11 p.m. He left the bicycle at the station and got into the train and reached Benares. There he bought a ticket for Kanpur and traveled to that place arriving there in the evening. In Kanpur, he went to Haldhar Bajpai’s house and sent for Sinha, who was not at home. He gave Rs. 500/- to Haldhar and asked him to give it to his father. He then went to Surendranath Pandey’s house and gave him all the remaining money he had. He remained in his house for two days, where Sheo Verma and Bijoy Kumar Sinha used to meet him. Sheo verma was staying in the DAV College Hostel and after two days Kailaspati went to stay with him in his room. There he met Sukh Deo Raj, who was known as ‘villager’, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Dr. Gaya Prasad. He spent one day at the Hostel, Sukh Deo left for Lahore early next day and Sheo Verma went to Hardoi also in the morning. In the evening, Kailaspati also left Kanpur for Lahore.

Change of party name from HRA to HSRA

At the beginning of August, 1928, Sukh Deo came to Kailaspati and told him that he was going to Delhi to attend the Central Committee meeting of the party. After two weeks, Sukh Deo and Sheo Verma came back and met him in the Edward Hostel. Sukh Deo told that he had attended the Central Committee meeting and that it had been decided that first of all the name of the Association (Hindustan Republican Association) should be changed to the “Hindustan Socialist Republican Association”, secondly, the organization should be on a provincial basis and thirdly, Provincial Organizers should be appointed for various provinces. In the meeting it was decided that Bijoy Kumar Sinha and Sheo Verma should be Provincial Organizers for the U.P., Bhagat Singh and Sukh Deo should be Provincial Organizers for the Punjab, Kundan Lal for Rajputana and Phanindar Nath Ghosh for Bihar and Orissa. Chandra Shekhar Azad was appointed the Commander-in-Chief for whole of India. In September, 1928, Sukh Deo, Phanindar Nath Ghosh, Sheo Verma and Kailaspati were staying in Edward Hostel. A few days later Phanindar Nath Ghosh and Sheo Verma left for Amritsar while instructing Kailaspati to Look after Pratap, who was ill and staying in a house in Gwalamandi in Lahore. Kailaspati shifted to that house to take care of ailing Pratap, whose real name was Mahabir Singh. Mahabir Singh was learning motor driving at the Bharat Motor Training College. After a week, Kailaspati went from Lahore to Amritsar on a bicycle, where Sheo Verma and Sukh Deo were staying in a house. At that time Sheo Verma was writing articles for the “Phansi” (gallows) number of the “Chand”, a monthly paper published from Allahabad.

Failed ‘money action’ at Punjab National Bank

In mid November 1929 Sukh Deo came to Kailaspati and told that the party had need of money and that a ‘money action’ was going to take place in Lahore and his presence would be required. After two weeks, in one evening Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Sukh Deo, Kundan Lal, Jai Gopal, Hans Raj Vohra, Raj Guru and Kailaspati met at Muzang House in Lahore. There Azad said that the next morning they were going to rob the Punjab National Bank. Then they cleaned their weapons, which were revolvers and pistols, which each of them were to carry. After cleaning the weapons, it was arranged what duties various individuals were to carry out at the ‘money action’. Azad was to leave the party when it went to rob the Bank; Sukh Deo was to go and seize the gun of the sentry standing at the door and afterwards with Hans Raj and Rajguru to keep guard outside. Bhagat Singh and Kailashpati were to control the telephone and prevent any one using them and, if necessary, to cut the wire. Jai Gopal and Kishori Lal were to take the money; after that, they were to return to the Muzang House in a car which Mahabir Singh was to drive. The following day, they were unable to go to rob the Bank for some reason. Two days later, all of them arrived at the Bank at about 3 p.m. according to the various duties which had been assigned to them, but Mahabir Singh and Bhagat Singh did not arrive with the car and so the plan failed.

Revolutionary Books: “Selections from Lenin

About the beginning of August intimation came to the Party that the books ordered from Rama Krishna and Sons of Lahore were coming through Railways. All the letters and posts meant for the party were always routed in innocuously looking manner through individuals, who were either trusted members of the party or relatives of those members. In case of any revelation, either intentional or otherwise, it was a dangerous venture for all those involved. In this case the intimation was addressed to Nand Kishore Nigam’s brother-in-law. The Railway receipt was received by value payable post. Hardwari Lal took the parcel in which the books were sent. These books included “Young India” by Lal Lajpat Rai, “Selections from Lenin” in two volumes, “Soviet Russia”, “China in Revolt” and “Modern India” by Palme Dutt.

Plan to rescue Bhagat Singh and others

In the third week of February, when Chandra Sekhar Azad was in Delhi, he called for holding a party meeting in Cawnpore for discussing a very important matter. He himself reached Cawnpore and called other leaders to reach there. On this instruction Kailashpati reached Cawnpore and went to the house of Ram Singh from where he was taken by B.B. Tiwari to the house of Daya Shankar Shukla in Naryal Bazar. There a meeting was held which attended by B.B. Tiwari, Satgur Dayal Awasthi, Bhagwati Charan, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Kailaspati. There it was decided to rescue the accused in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. It was arranged that a gas was to be used which when released in the court would render everyone present there senseless and the accused would then be rescued and taken away in lorries. Arrangements were being made in the Punjab for the manufacture of this gas under the supervision of Yashpal. At that meeting it was also decided that Yashpal should be provincial organizer for the Punjab and that Bhagwati Charan should be the Secretary for the party throughout India. It was also decided that the representatives of Bengal and Maharashtra should be on the central committee of the party. with this object Satgur Dayal Awasthi was to go to Bengal and Vaishampayan to Maharashtra.

In March the news came from the Punjab that it was not possible to manufacture the gas. Azad, Bagwati Charan and Kailashpati met in Qudsia Gardens. They had then returned from Cawnpore. The scheme was that Kundan Lal, Kanwal Nath Tiwari, Bijay Kumar Sinha, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, B. K. Dutta, Ajay Kumar Gupta, and Sanyal were to be rescued from the British hands and set at liberty. It was also decided that Mahabir Singh, Sukh Dev and Desh Raj were to be killed because they had made statements which had been of great assistance to the police; as regards Shiv Verma, S. N. Pande and three others (which included Agya Ram), it was decided that they should be given another chance to prove their sincerity; Dr. Gaya Prashad’s case was to be tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal as his case was doubtful and it was not certain whether he had made a statement or not. At this meeting in February, Bhagwati Charan had written out a draft giving these names for this treatment, which draft was in his handwriting and was also exhibited by the prosecution during trial as Ex. P./20.

When Kailashpati went to Cawnpore to attend the party meeting, B.B. Tiwari told him that Pratul Ganguli had sent a man to Cawnpore who was leader of the New Socialist Republic. This person had come in order to seek cooperation with the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association; that the party had told him that it would consider this matter after the rescue of prisoners at Lahore. After the news has been received from the Punjab that the gas could not be manufactured, Azad, Bhagwati Charan and Kailashpati met in the Qudsia Bagh and came to the decision that the rescue of the Lahore accused was to be effected by a desperate attack on the court. This was about the end of February or the beginning of March. Madan Gopal was called from Ajmere to Delhi so that Bhagwati Charan could be introduced to him as Bhagwati Charan was to go to Ajmere. Madan Gopal came to Delhi and stayed for 2 or 3 days, when was introduced to Bhagwati Charan. Madan Gopal then left for Ajmere with certain revolutionary books and an air pistol for target practice. In the second week of March, Azad, Bimal Pershad Jain, Bhawani Singh, Bhawani Sahai, and Kailashpati went to Nalgarha, a place near Delhi, for practice in arms. They stayed there with Ram Chandra Sharma and practiced with rifle and pistol. Ram Chandra Sharma had two or three guns and a rifle, which he had bought in January. There was also a pistol which Azad always kept with him. When they were going to Nalgarha, Bimal Pershad Jain bought from Elahi Bakhsh on Ram Chandra Sharma’s license some .300 bore Savage rifle cartridges, some .32 bore pistol cartridges and some .12 bore gun cartridges. After staying there at Nalgarha for two or three days, they returned back to Delhi.

In May, the party at Delhi received news from the Punjab that owing to the lack of funds it had not been possible to carry out the rescue plan and that money ought to be collected quickly for this purpose. In this connection, Azad, Bhagwati Charan and Kailashpati met in Qudsia Bagh to discuss what could be done under the circumstances. They decided that if they could rob the money amounting to Rs. 90,000/- which went to the Railway Clearing Accounts Office on the first of each month for wages, it would be possible to carry out the rescue plan and many other party activities. It was decided that when the money was brought from the Bank in a lorry to the door of the office, some members of the party in another car should attack it and rob the money. It was arranged that when the money was thus brought, Vaishampayan should get down at Kashmere Gate with the greater part of it and take it to the house of a friend of Bhagwati Charan where he used to stay. The car was then to go Qudsia Bagh from where Kailashpati was to take away the rest of the money on a bicycle to the house of Hardwari Lal at Ajmere Gate. The car then was to go to the new Hindu Hostel.

But in the meantime, a sum of Rs. 3000/- was given by Durga Devi, the wife of Bhagwati Charan for the purpose of carrying out the rescue plan and so, as there was no urgent need for money, the plan of robbing the Railway Clearing Accounts Office was given up. About the beginning of May, certain blank forms were brought from Cawnpore, which were to be typed and distributed to the public after the rescue of the prisoners at Lahore. At that time, certain leaders from Chittagong had come to Cawnpore and wanted to see Azad. This news was given to Azad, who was in Delhi at that time, and he came down to Cawnpore and met them, though the police at that time was making frantic searches in Cawnpore about revolutionary activities going on there.

In the second week of May, Bhagwati Charan went from Delhi to Lahore in connection with the rescue of the Lahore accused. It was arranged that after the rescue, the freed accused were to be sent to different places for safety. For this purpose persons were sent to different places to arrange for their safe stay. Kailashpati was sent to Jaipur to arrange for some of them. This visit was before Bhagwati Charan went to Lahore in connection with the rescue plan. After Bhagwati Charan had gone to Lahore, Azad took one day Kailashpati to Marwari dharamshala behind the Railway Clearing Accounts Office and told him to go up and bring down to him a person named Ramesh who was sitting there. Kailashpati went up and brought Ramesh down to meet Azad, both of whom then had a conversation for some time. Thereafter, Azad told Kailashpati that Ramesh was going to bring him Rs. 2,500/- and that he (Kailashpati) was to send this money to Lahore for rescue plan. Ramesh took noted Kailashpati’s address and Kailashpati took the address of Ramesh, which was that of Matsaddi Lal, Malakpur in district Muzaffarnagar. Kailashpati gave the address that of Krishna Kumar, 1st year student, St. Stephen’s College, Kashmere Gate. Azad, along with Madan Gopal, went to Lahore in the third week of May to direct the rescue plan. In the beginning of June, Khiali Ram Gupta had a meeting with Kailashpati in Qudsia Bagh along with a person who had come from the Punjab. His name was Asaf (and the real name was Sampuran Singh Tandan) and was a member of the party. Asaf told that Bhagwati Charan had been killed in Lahore through the explosion of a bomb which he was testing and Sukh Deo Raj, who was with him, was badly wounded in the foot and that Vaishampayan had been burnt on the shin; that Sukh Deo Raj had brought the news of this accident to the Bhawalpur House where the party was staying with a view to rescue the prisoners. He also said that the party had attempted the rescue but failed. Asaf said that he himself had been at the Bhawalpur House when the attempt had failed and that Azad had sent him to get money in order that another attempt might be made. Sometime, thereafter, Azad came back from Lahore to Delhi and told the party that there had been an attempt to effect the rescue; that the party had actually gone to the jail but was under the impression that Bhagat Singh would rush towards them while Bhagat Singh was under the impression that they would rush towards him so both remained where they were and Bhagat Singh was taken away by the police in a lorry. After that Azad said that after his experience in Lahore he would never take any part in any action unless there was sufficient money and material.

He also said that in order to raise funds the Railway Clearing Accounts Office should be raided on the first of the following month.

After that there was a meeting of the party at the Nand Kishore Nigam’s house and it was decided that a bomb factory should be opened in Delhi and it was to pass as soap factory. It was decided that Bimal Pershad Jain should be its manager. It was also decided that a shell factory should be opened in Cawnpore.

“The Himalyan Toilets”

Vatsayana was known within the Party circle as ‘Scientist’. He was intimately connected to bomb-making secret activities of the Party. Qudsia Gardens was one of the frequent meeting places of revolutionaries in Delhi, whether these revolutionaries were on a short visit to Delhi for some important Party work or were based in Delhi for their revolutionary work. Babu Ram Gupta was having a shop in Billimaran and ostensibly was engaged in his innocent shop-keeping business but in his hearts of heart he was a committed revolutionary and utilized his shop-keeping activities as façade to buy bomb-making materials on regular basis. After mid-July one day Asaf met Kailaspati at Babu Ram Gupta’s shop and asked him to meet him in the Qudsia Gardens in the evening. When he went to the Qudsia Gardens, he found Dhanwantri, Asaf, Sukhdeo Raj and Bisheshar Nath were present there. On meeting, Dhanwantri asked him to accommodate Sukhdeo Raj and Bisheshar Nath somewhere. In compliance, Kailashpati took with him Sukhdeo Raj to stay with Bhawani Singh in Hamilton Road and Bisheshar Nath to stay with Bhawani Sahai in his house in Kanari Bazar. At that time Chandra Shekhar Azad was also staying in Delhi but after some time he left for Cawnpore for Party work. When he left, he took with him Rs. 7,500/-, which were to be given to B.B. Tiwari for some important assignment.

In keeping with its philosophy of liberating India through the peoples’ armed revolution, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association needed arms. At that time, only small arms like pistols, revolvers, guns etc. were the only means which could be procured by the Party. Even Chandra Shekhar Azad himself used to keep only Mouser pistol for his personal safety. Party was fully aware of the acute shortage of the quality arms to fight the enemy and highly valued the idea of making innovations in this crucial field. Making effective use of bombs and lethal gases by the revolutionaries as weapons in this fight was one such innovative idea. They referred to chemistry books to learn about chemical reactions so that they could make bombs; they made experiments to verify the efficacy of their products; and, they stock piled and used those products in their missions, albeit not with great success. These innovative weapons were sought to be used by Bhagat Singh and his co-revolutionaries for ‘making an announcement through explosion so that the deaf ears of the British could hear’ the message. One should be cognizant of the objective fact that almost all of these Indian revolutionaries were very young – between 20 and 24 years of age – and therefore immature in practical things, and not highly educated either. But they were highly fired by the zeal and patriotism. At this distance of time from then and with all the required neutrality available to us today, a fair credit should be given to these revolutionaries that they conducted themselves in their chosen activities with full maturity (much beyond their age), ingenuity and competence.

Making of bombs

It was decided that in addition to the procurement of pistols, revolvers, guns and other weapons of government armory, the Party would make bombs and lethal gases. Towards this end, certain quantity of acids was bought and kept with Kailashpati. At the end of July and the beginning of August, these acids were furnished by Kailashpati from his house and taken to the Bomb Factory. This factory was named “The Himalyan Toilets”. For the venture a signboard with the name “The Himalyan Toilets” was made, which was done by “Azad Painting Works”, and put up at the place. It was also considered necessary that correspondence of revolutionaries should reach this place and for this purpose an application was sent to the Postmaster of Delhi asking him to send any correspondence for the Himalyan Toilets to this place. Then, through Babu Ram Gupta the required materials were purchased, which were: 80 or 90 pounds of sulphuric acid, about 100 pounds of nitric acid, 9 or 10 pairs of rubber gloves, 1 pound of chloroform, 1 pound of potassium ‘cyanide’ and a good number of other smaller things.

On the first occasion, the acids were brought to the factory on ‘thela’ by Kailaspati and the second time he took with him Girwar Singh to bring the material, which was brought on a ‘tonga’. While these materials were being brought by Girwar Singh, before reaching the factory Kailaspati got down from the ‘tongs’. This was done to avoid suspicion by strangers or police informers. After that mostly Girwar Singh alone brought these materials, which was sometime on ‘thela’ and sometime on ‘tonga’. For these materials Babu Ram Gupta was paid Rs. 600/-. Two electric fans were also required for use in the factory and the same were hired by Bimal Prashad Jain. For the manufacture of picric acid, carbolic acid was also necessary. Some of this material was kept in the house of Kailaspati, which was brought from there to the factory.

Picric acid was made in the factory in a room near the kitchen. While making picric acid, the electric fans were used to blow the fumes outside. While the picric acid was washed with water, it turned yellow and to avoid detection by outsiders another color used to be put in this water before letting it run outside.

Bombs to soaps and Oils

Usually, Mst. Prakasho used to wash the picric acid. After making picric acid for three or four days, the drain of the factory got chocked and the water began collecting in the lane. Then, the making of picric acid was stopped and in its place the making of soap, oil and cream was started. The soap made by the revolutionaries was to be known as “Vasant Prag”. Several other kinds of oils meant for hair, which were known by different names, were also made there.

To get the drain cleared, a letter (postcard) was written in the name of Bimal Prashad Jain to the Health Officer of the Municipality to have the drain opened and cleaned. ‘Scientist’ attempted to make soap but was not successful. However, he was able to make some oil and cream, which was to be sold in the bazaar. For advertising and selling these things some labels and posters were prepared and got printed at the Delhi Printing Works by Bimal Prashad Jain and Yashpal.

By the third week of July it became apparent that the process of making picric acid was very slow and that if some apparatus were obtained, it could be made quicker in large quantity. The needed apparatus for the quicker process were flasks, glass tubes, rubber-tubing, measuring glasses, rubber corks, and stands and separating funnels. Therefore, these apparatus were ordered through Khayali Ram Gupta and obtained from the Imperial Scientific and Educational Stores, and were taken to the factory. The revolutionaries also required nitric acid, sulphuric acid and ice for making gun cotton, which was a necessary element needed to remotely ignite a bomb through wire. (This method was used by the revolutionaries for blowing the Vice-regal train sometime thereafter). One day Girwar Singh went to Fatehpuri and bought 15 seers of ice from the Suraj Restaurant for this purpose. Thereafter, he regularly went there to get ice. Some chemicals, oil and fat were also needed for making soap. While the needed oil and chemicals were bought by Bimal Prashad Jain, the fat was procured by Kailaspati through Bhagirat Lal, who bought it from some butcher at Kashmir Gate. Though the young revolutionaries were fired by their zeal in pursuit of the goal of achieving freedom for their motherland by any means, still they were not oblivious to the religious considerations. And, this act of buying fat from a butcher by Bhagirat Lal was condemned by ‘scientist’. The fat bought from the butcher was not used and instead some fat was bought from Babu Ram Gupta’s shop, which was manufactured by Merck and Company and was called ‘adapselane’. Bhagirath Lal himself was a Brahmin by caste, who was a native of village Barkali Tehsil Sardhana in District Meerut in U.P. and a revolutionary mentor of Babu Ram Charan Singh of the same village.

Making of poisonous gas

At the factory when they were making picric acid, the fumes got into their lungs and gave them chocking sensation. It was necessary to overcome this problem and for this purpose from Babu Lal Gupta smelling salts were procured. Nitro glycerine was also produced in the factory and, at first, it was kept in three bottles in the same room in which picric acid was being made. On one occasion there was an accidental mild explosion in the factory. It took place when some nitro glycerine was being changed from one bottle to another, which bottle had earlier been used to contain sulphuric acid and which possibly still had some residue of that chemical. As a result of this mixing of the two chemicals, there was a chemical reaction in the bottle. As a result, there was a mild explosion in the room, the cork flew out of the bottle and all the nitro glycerine was thrown up to the ceiling.

In August when Yashpal was going to Lahore, he took away with him the other two bottles of nitroglycerine, which were again brought by Dhanwantri back from Lahore to Delhi. At the end of July, the Party came to the conclusion that, as the factory building was a very big one and the male members working there were numerous, it may attract curious attention of unwanted persons, it was necessary to introduce another female inmate (beside Mst. Prakasho who was living there) in the factory to avoid detection. Accordingly, Bimal Prashad Jain brought his wife to the factory. After staying for 8 or 10 days, his wife went away as she fell ill.

Before the drain was choked off, during the three or four days of working, some picric acid and about a quarter of a pound of guncotton was manufactured by these people.

Revolutionaries’ this manufacturing facility was wired for the supply of electricity but the supply of current was cut off. It was necessary to get the electric supply restored and so Bimal Prashad Jain arranged with the Municipality to have it turned on.

The drain was cleared and in the first week of August, the process of manufacturing picric acid etc. again commenced. At this time, as before, in the factory Scientist, Yaspal, Girwar Singh, Bimal Prashad Jain, Mst. Prakasho and Kailaspati were present. One day, Sukh Deo Raj, Asaf, Danwantri, Yashpal and Kailaspati met in the Qudsia Gardens, when Asaf and Sukh Deo Raj expressed their desire to learn how to make picric acid. However, as Yaspal and Sukh Deo Raj were on bad terms (and Yaspal was engaged in the work at the factory), the idea of making them learn the process was put off by those present in the meeting. In the factory nitro-glycerine and picro-chlorine gas was also made. While the gas was made by Scientist and Yashpal alone, the other thing was made by the participation of all those present at the factory.

The people working at the factory also intended to make hydro-cynic acid. For this purpose, 1 pound of potassium cyanide was bought from Babu Ram Gupta but Scientist said it would be no good as its intensity was only 30 per cent. In view of this situation, Bimal Prashad Jain again brought another pound of potassium cyanide, the intensity of which was 98 to 100 per cent.

The revolutionaries working there very well knew that hydro-cynic acid was a very poisonous gas and unless an antidote was available, the effect of this gas would be felt by the man who was making it. And, since these people could not get any antidote to hydro-cynic acid, and did not know of any, they were unable to make the intended chemical. The picro-chlorine gas was made with the object of using it when a raid was made on a place in order to render its inhabitants senseless. Sometimes, it was necessary to even kill persons and Hydro—cynic acid was to be used for the purpose of killing the enemy outright. Bimal Prashad Jain and Yashpal brought two hares to test the efficacy of the manufactured picro-chlorine gas and were shut up in a room in which some picro-chlorine gas was liberated. The hares became senseless. The potassium cyanide was also tested on two rats, which were injected with some potassium cyanide with a syringe. The rats died.

Party Central Committee orders to shoot Yashpal

On 8th August, 1929 a Central Committee meeting of the party was held at the house of Satgur Dayal Avasthi in Cawnpore. In this meeting Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bir Bahadur Tiwari, Satgur Dayal, Dhanwantri and Kailashpati were present. Azad opened the meeting and said that both in the Viceregal train outrage in Delhi and in the Bhagat Singh rescue plan in Lahore Yashpal had wasted a great deal of the party’s money. He also said that Bhagwati Charan’s death in carrying out the bomb explosion experiment was due to Yashpal’s negligence. Azad also said that Yashpal had abducted Prakasho (the wife of late Bhagwati Charan), which was quite contrary to the party’s strict disciplinary rules of keeping one’s character clean in the matter of engaging with women.

Taking all these things into consideration, it was decided in the meeting that Yashpal should be killed. It was also decided in the meeting that a terroristic campaign against very high government officials, approvers and traitors should be vigorously begun throughout India. The decision to adopt this measure was taken to terrify the Government and lower is public image, to win the confidence and sympathy of general public and to teach a lesson to traitors of the motherland and deter other weaklings within the party’s rank from committing such anti-party and dangerous acts.

In this meeting the names of the Governor of the Punjab, the Governor of the United Provinces, approvers of the Lahore Conspiracy case, and old approvers such as Dina Nath and Benarsi Das were mentioned. By the ‘old approvers’ the party meant the people who had given the evidence against the revolutionaries as approvers for the Government’s prosecutors in the first Lahore Conspiracy case and the Kakori cases.

In this meeting it was also decided that the party should organize a public demonstration in the honor of martyr Bhagwati Charan in order to highlight his work and sacrifice and also to motivate and mobilize other young people for the revolutionary work. In this regard the first suggestion made by some of those present was that the demonstration should be made throughout India but Azad, realizing the lack of all-India base of the party then, said that it was not wise to stretch the demonstration to all India scale and that it ought to be limited to the Punjab and carried out by the Punjab party in the Punjab.

It was also decided in the meeting that the letter-forms for different provinces should be got printed, since the party before that had no letter-forms. Azad said that he would get these forms printed later on.

Regarding Yashpal, the meeting decided that Kailaspati should go back to Delhi and send Yashpal to Cawnpore where Azad and Bir Bahadur Tiwari would take him to a jungle and kill him there. At that time Yashpal was the provincial organizer of the party for the Punjab and, therefore, it was decided at that meeting that Dhanwantri would be appointed the provincial organizer for the Punjab in his place.

After two or three days Kailashpati left Cawnpore for Delhi and met Yashpal there. Kailashpati told Yashpal that he (Yashpal) had to attend the Central Committee meeting at Cawnpore and he himself (Kailashpati) would be going to Cawnpore by the following train. On being so informed, Yashpal left for Cawnpore but to the great surprise of Kailashpati he was back in Delhi the next day. On this, Kailashpati sent a telegram to Azad in Cawnpore, addressed to the Manager, Cawnpore Watch Company, Chowk, Cawnpore (which was the address being used by the party for communications), asking him to come to Delhi.

After sending the telegram Kailashpati got back to the party’s bomb factory and found that Yashpal, Prakasho and Scientist had already left the factory and had taken with them what picric acid, gun cotton and nitro-glycerine were in the factory and also a revolver. Next day, Azad and Vaishampayan arrived in Delhi to Bhawani Singh’s house. There, Vaishampayan was sent to call Dhanwantri and Azad was taken by Kailashpati to the factory.

Azad was very upset by what had happened, that is, the way Yashpal had left the factory. Azad and Kailashpati returned back to Bhawani Singh’s house and found that Dhanwantri had arrived. Sukh Dev Raj and Bhawani Singh were also present there. In this meeting of Azad, Dhanwantri, Sukh Dev Raj, Vishampayan, Kailashpati and Bhawani Singh it was decided that Chhail Bihari should be sent to the Railway Station in case Yashpal was leaving Delhi by some train and he was to stop him. Chhail Bihari went to the Station but did not find Yashpal there.

In the evening the same day, a meeting of Chandra Shekhar Azad, Girwar Singh, Bimal Prashad Jain, Dhanwantri, Kailashpati, Vaishampayan was held at the factory and it was decided that Vaishampayan and Dhanwantri should take Sukh Dev Raj with them to Lahore and there shoot Yashpal by any means if they got an opportunity. As decided, by the evening train Vaishampayan and Dhanwantri left with Sukh Dev Raj for Lahore.

Yashpal had already reached Lahore by then and had spread the word about the plan of his killing among his friends by taking the position that the decision of the Central Committee of the party had been arrived at in his absence – without hearing his side - which was contrary to justice. Consequently, many members of the party in the Punjab were opposed to the decision of the Central Committee. In these circumstances, the team assigned the task of killing him met Yashpal but did not execute the plan. It was about 16/17th of August, 1929.

After two or three days,Dhanwantri and Vaishampayan came back from Lahore to Delhi, bringing back with them the two bottles of nitro-glycerine and the revolver which Yashpal had taken away with him. Thus, Yashpal was saved in his life by his ingenuity and circumstances.

Separate trials of revolutionaries after disbanding the Commission:

Bimal Prashad Jain

(help needed)

N.K. Nigam


Bhagirath Lal

Babu Ram Charan Singh

Rudra Dutt Mishra

Other revolutionaries

Source: the Commission recorded its proceedings and prepared in all 35 copies (indicated as ‘GIPD – 318 (C) CC Delhi – 21.12.31 – 35’), which were certified by its clerk to be true, for use of the defense, the prosecution and the members of the Commission. This article is sourced from these proceedings, of which one such copy is in possession of this contributor. Other copies may possibly be found in the Indian National Archives and the British Colonial Archives.


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