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    Today is National Forest Martyrs Day — here's the history, significance and all you need to know

    Today is National Forest Martyrs Day — here's the history, significance and all you need to know

    Today is National Forest Martyrs Day — here's the history, significance and all you need to know
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Updated)

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    National Forest Martyrs Day: The Ministry of Environment chose September 11 as the day to mark National Forest Martyrs Day in 2013 as it was the anniversary of the Khejarli Massacre (1730).

    September 11 is marked as National Forest Martyrs Day in India every year. The day is observed to pay tribute to the numerous activists who have laid down their lives to protect jungles, forests and wildlife across India.
    The day sees participation from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, educational societies and institutions across the country to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the forests, trees and environment at large.
    History
    The Ministry of Environment chose September 11 as the day to mark National Forest Martyrs Day in 2013 as it was the anniversary of the Khejarli Massacre (1730). The massacre took place in the Kingdom of Marwar when Maharaja Abhai Singh Rathore wanted to cut down trees near the Bishnoi village of Khejarli.
    As one of the commandments of the Bishnois is to not cut down any green trees, the villagers had pleaded with the representatives of the king to not cut down the trees near the village.
    After refusing to stand down or pay a bribe to the king’s soldiers, the villagers led by a woman named Amrita Devi Bishnoi hugged the trees to shield them with their bodies. Announcing that they would rather die, the soldiers beheaded Devi along with her family and several other villagers.
    Other Bishnoi communities nearby sent people to support the Kherjali struggle, and 363 Bishnoi villagers were killed while protecting the trees. Abhai Singh travelled to the village to offer his apology. He proclaimed an edict that prevented the killing of animals and cutting of trees near all Bishnoi villages, and the village came to be known as Khejarli after the Khejri trees that the villagers laid their lives down to protect.
    Significance
    The passive resistance inspired many activists afterwards including the more famous Chipko Movement, where villagers would hug trees in a similar manner to the Bishnoi to prevent government logging in the 1970s.
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