|Biographies of Great
Indians & Hindus
|In the Dark
Shadow of Death
Ramaprasad Bismil wrote his auto- biography (the story of his own life) in the prison a
few days before his death. Had the authorities known about it, it would not have seen the
light of day. But Rama- prasad had it secretly sent out of prison. He has given a moving
account of his friendship with Ashfaq. He says, 'I remember clearly my first meeting with
you in Shahjahanpur School; we met after the British Government declared its policy
towards India. You were sincerely trying to meet me. You wanted to talk to me about the
Mainpuri plot. I suspected your intentions because you were a Muslim and I talked to you
in an insulting way. You were then greatly pained. You tried to convince me through
friends that you were honest and earnest and that there was no pretence in you. You were
determined to work hard for the good of the country. At last you won the day. By your
efforts you won a place for yourself in my heart.'
Ramaprasad describes with great warmth how his friendship with Ashfaq grew after he had
pulled down the walls of suspicion. He says, 'You became my brother in a few days'
friendship. But you were not content to remain in the position of a brother. You wanted
equality; you wanted to be one of my friends. You succeeded in your efforts. You became my
honored and loved friend. Every one was surprised. I was a devout member of Arya Samaj;
you were a devout Muslim. They wondered how we could be friendly.I used to invite Muslims
to become Hindus. I lived in the hostels belonging to Arya Samaj. You never troubled
yourself about it. Though my friends suspected you, you always walked the straight path
firmly. You also used to visit the Arya Samaj Hostel. When there was a clash between the
Hindus and the Muslims some of your people scolded you and called you a 'Kaafir'
(non-believer). But you never joined them. You always supported Hindu-Muslim unity.
You were a true Muslim and a great patriot. If you worried about any thing it was about
Hindu Muslim unity. You wanted them to work for the betterment of the country. When I
wrote an article or a book in Hindi, you used to ask me why I did not write in Urdu; you
wanted that the Muslims also should read it. You learnt Hindi and became a scholar in it.
You also used Hindi words while speaking at home. This surprised all.'
When Ashfaq tried to win Ramaprasad's friendship Ramaprasad suspected him. When they
became friends, some people had needless doubts about Ashfaq. In this context Ramaprasad
says, 'Some of your people feared that you would give up Islam. When there was nothing
impure in your heart, where was the question of purifying you ? I understood the purity of
your purpose; then I was completely won over. Some friends warned me that I should not
trust a Muslim and get cheated.
'But success was yours. Nothing could stand between us now. We ate from the same plate
almost always. I began to get over the feeling that there is difference between Hindus and
Muslims. You had great love for faith and me in me. You stopped calling me by my full
name. Always I was just 'Ram' to you. Once you lost consciousness. Then you called out
'Ram, Ram' often. The Muslims around you were shocked that a Muslim wascalling on a Hindu
God 'Ram' in his last moments. They told you to call on Allah. But you went on saying
'Ram, Ram'. By chance a friend who knew the meaning sent word to me. When you saw me you
Where did this friendship lead these two souls? Ramaprasad himself describes it. 'What was
the result of this friendship finally? Your ideas were shaped by mine. You became a
revolutionary. You had then one goal. You wanted to spread these ideas among the Muslim
youths. You tried hard to kindle their interest. You wanted to induce them to take part in
revolutionary activities. You wanted to influence your friends and relatives. You never
disobeyed me. You were always ready to carry out my instructions like an obedient
Ashfaqulla choose the path of service to the motherland. That path led him to the
hangmans noose. His leaderRamaprasad, himself standing on the threshold of death,
bids farewell to him in these words: It makes me glad that you made me shine
brighter in the world. It is worth mentioning in Indian History that Ashfaqulla took part
in the revolutionary movement in India. Even though you were put in prison your ideals
never changes. You are strong both physically and mentally. Your soul is nobly prepared.
On account of all these virtues the judge named you as my right-hand man. When he
delivered judgment he gave you the garland of victory in the form of the hangmans
noose. My dear brother, you will feel glad that he who sacrificed his ancestral properly
for the motherland, he who reduced his parents to beggars, prosperity for the sake of the
country and he who sacrificed his all including his own life for the freedom of the
country, sacrificed his dearest friend, Ashfaq, for the sake of the motherland.
These are the words of love and admiration that one martyr, Ramaprasad, spoke about
another martyr, Ashfaqulla Khan.
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