On 11th September 2020, the National Forest martyrs Day was observed throughout the country to commemorate the personnel of Department of Forest and Wildlife who laid down their lives to protect natural resources. According to indiatimes, about 1,400 forest officials have been martyed while protecting the country’s forest wealth and wildlife.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India made the declaration in 2013 and since then, people across India observe National Forest Martyrs Day every year on September 11th to pay tributes to the valour and sacrifice made the forest personnel to protect the forests and wildlife of India.
Why 11th September is observed as National Forest Martyrs Day ?
The National Forest Martyrs Day is observed on 11th September every year to commemorate the Khejarli massacre, which took place on Tuesday, the 10th day of the bright fortnight of the month Bhaadrapad (as per Indian lunar calendar) or September 11, in 1730.
As per the legends, Maharaja Abhay Singh of Marwar ordered cutting the Khejarli trees, which were considered as a sacred tree in the Bishnoi community in Khejarli village in Rajasthan.
A woman, reportedly named Amrita Devi stood up in resistance and offered her head instead of Khejarli trees. The Minister of Abhay Singh ordered beheading her and her three daughters who stood up in resistance after their mother. The decapitation continued and 363 Bishnois sacrificed in the incident.
सर सान्टे रूख रहे तो भी सस्तो जाणAmrita Devi’s words – meaning – If a tree is saved even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it.
When Maharaja learned about the carnage, he was repentant and forbade any killing of animals and cutting of trees in the Bishnois territories. The Mahraja issued a decree engraved on a copper plate to prohibit the cutting of Khejarli trees and hunting of animals within and near Bishnoi villages forever. The Khejarli Massacre was an inspiration for the 20th century environmentalist Chipko movement.