September 11, is a day to remember the warriors that sacrificed their lives to conserve heavenly forests, jungles, and wildlife, a day to honor them, and to take up an oath to save our beloved nature at any cost. National Forest Martyrs Day was declared in 2013 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
History of Martyrs
The tragic massacre of Khejarli occurred on the same date September 11, 1730. The major motive behind choosing the day to be recognized as National Forest Martyrs Day. Maharaja Abhay Singh the king of Marwar had passed an order to cut the khejri trees to his minister Giridhar Bhandari.
Khejri trees were sacred to the villagers and so a woman named Amrita Devi Bishnoi protested the tree felling because such acts were prohibited by Bishnoi’s religion, and the tree-felling would stop only if she paid a bribe to them. But instead of paying she stood firm and said that she would rather give away her life to save the trees.
The officials killed Amrita Devi and her 3 daughters. The news of the death spread around in the Bishnoi villages and a meeting was held with a conclusion that one Bishnoi volunteer would give their life for every tree cut down later the people started hugging the trees that were meant to be cut which led to the bloodbath of more than 350 people.
This news was later heard by Maharaja Abhay Singh which made him travel to the village to apologize and declare that killing animals and trees near all the Bishnoi Villages is forbidden.
Significance of the Massacre
The passive endurance and immense strength inspired many environmental activists later. This also gave rise to the famous Chipko Movement that was initiated in the year 1973. And so the National Forest Martyrs Day is marked to remember and pay tribute to the great Bishnoi Warriors who sacrificed their lives for the security of the environment.