National Forest Martyrs Day is observed on September 11 in India. This day is a tribute to those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, defending the forests and wildlife that are important for the well-being of our planet. The Day is an important day to remember the sacrifices made by forest officers and personnel in protecting our forests and wildlife. It is also a day to reaffirm our commitment to conserve these precious natural resources.
National Forest Martyrs Day 2023, Significance
National Forest Martyrs Day is significant because it honours and recognises the sacrifices made by forest guards, rangers, and other personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This day emphasises the importance of forest conservation. It serves as a reminder that forests are not just a collection of trees but complex ecosystems that support many species, maintain ecological balance, and also provide many benefits to humans. National Forest Martyrs Day sheds light on the dangers forest rangers encounter while combating illegal activities such as logging, poaching, and encroachments.
National Forest Martyrs Day, History
National Forest Martyrs Day’s history can be traced back to 1970 when the Khejarli massacre took place in the Marwar Kingdom. It so happened that Maharaja Abhai Singh of Rajasthan ordered the cutting of trees in the Bishnoi village of Khejarli. This move was strongly opposed by the Bishnoi community.
- The revolt was led by a woman named Amrita Devi Bishnoi. The villagers refused to surrender their trees. Amrita Devi said that the Khejri trees were sacred to the Bishnois, and her faith prohibited her from allowing the trees to be cut down. They were even offered a bribe. Amrita then announced that she would rather die than to allow the trees to be cut down. She and her family began hugging the Khejris, shielding it with their bodies.
- This angered the King’s men and they beheaded Amrita Devi and three of her daughters before beginning to cut down the trees. This resulted in widespread outrage where the Bishnoi community old, young, men and women all gathered to hug and protect the trees.
- Around 363 Bishnois were killed in this. Abhai Singh was so shocked by the incident that he withdrew his troops and personally visited the villagers to apologise. He also promised the villagers that such an incident will not happen again. In 2013, the Ministry of Environment declared the day of the massacre September 11 as National Forest Martyrs Day.