Every year on 11 September, National Forest Martyrs Day is marked and observed in the country. It is a day to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to protect the wildlife, forests, and jungles in India.
There are still many communities and villages where the only source of livelihood is forest. Also, people protect the flora and fauna as their own family. Many even risk their lives guarding and protecting it; which is why the day is observed to pay tribute and hail their contributions.
How is National Forest Martyrs Day celebrated in India?
On this special day, several educational societies and institutions in the country organise programs or events through which people are informed about protecting the forests, trees, and environment at large.
Every year, many competitions are conducted to ensure more and more children and youth participate. So that, they can be aware of conserving jungles and engage in events concerning the same.
Since the pandemic has hit the country, this year too most of the events will be held in virtual mode.
History behind National Forest Martyrs Day:
After the Ministry of Environment and Forest made the declaration, this day officially came into existence and it was in the year 2013.
The ministry selected this date (11 September) because, on this day in 1730, the Khejarli massacre took place in the country. On the orders of the then king Maharaja Abhay Singh of Rajasthan, the soldiers started cutting trees to provide wood for a new palace. During that time, a woman identified as Amrita Devi offered her head instead of the sacred Khejarli tree. Angry over the act, people in that village rose in protest and offered their lives in place of trees.
After beheading her, the soldiers went on to slaughter over 350 people including Amrita’s children. On hearing this massacre, the shocked king instantly ordered his soldiers to spot killing the people and apologised to them who belonged to the Bishnoi community.
Along with his apology, King Maharaja Abhay Singh made a declaration stating that no cutting of trees and killing of animals will take place in areas that are around the Bishnoi villages.