Ram Prasad Bismil, a revolutionary who fought against the British during India’s independence struggle, is a household name and does not warrant an introduction.
Bismil has inspired many by his bravery and poems. He was the founding member of ‘Hindustan Republican Association’ which had popular revolutionary members like Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan and Bhagat Singh.
The organisation’s name was later changed to ‘Hindustan Socialist Republican Association’ in 1928 as Bhagat Singh gained more influence.
A fact about Bismil many do not know is that he had written an autobiography while he was in Gorakhpur prison. He completed it just two days before he was executed. It was published by renowned journalist Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in 1928.
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Here are some interesting facts mentioned in the book:
* Bismil’s parents had given birth to a boy a year before he was born but he could not survive. Just a couple of months after Bismil’s birth, his health also started deteriorating in a similar fashion. In order to save his life, Bismil’s grandfather tried various occult techniques to improve his condition.
* At the age of seven, Bismil’s father started teaching him Hindi and also sent him to learn Urdu from a ‘maulvi’.
* After Bismil, his parents gave birth to five girls and three boys. While his grandmother suggested the girls should be killed as per their ‘family tradition’, it was his mother who opposed the idea. It was the first time that girls were raised in their family.
* When he was 14 years old, Bismil got involved into some wrong activities like stealing money from his parents and smoking. However, most of the money he stole from his father used to be spent on buying books and novels that he loved to read.
* As he grew up, Bismil got rid of most of the bad habits but could not quit smoking. He wrote in his autobiography that at one point he used to smoke around 50-60 cigarettes a day. It was at this time in his life that he came in contact with Munshi Indrajit and Arya Samaj. After this, Ram Prasad changed his lifestyle and became a staunch follower of ‘Arya Samaj’.
* Later in his life, Bismil became attracted to the activities of the Congress and got to know about a revolutionary group which used to operate in secret. Bismil became a part of it and started working actively towards raising money, buying arms among other things.
* In his autobiography, he has talked about how he thrived after leaving his home and got involved in the freedom struggle. During this period, Bismil tried to form a group of people who wanted to fight for the cause of freedom and highlights the struggle he went through the entire time.
* After the Kakori conspiracy case, the hunt to nab him was intensified by the police. He describes that at 4 in the night, police reached his place to arrest him and he surrendered without making any effort to escape.
* Bismil got to know through the District Collector that he was going to be sentenced to death. Later, an officer told him that if he agreed to give a statement in relation to ‘Bolsheviks’ in Bengal, then he will get a very lenient punishment and will be sent to England immediately after his release.
* In the book, Bismil has dedicated an entire chapter to his close friend Ashfaqullah Khan and praised him for having ignored his family and community’s pressure and continuing to be his friend.
* Towards the end of his autobiography, Bismil mentions an incident where a policeman did not try to put him in chains even when others advised him to do so. The policeman said he trusted Bismil and got busy watching a wrestling game. At that moment, when he had a chance to escape from that place and save himself from death sentence, Bismil chose not to betray the policeman and later went to the jail along with him.