National Forest Martyrs Day is commemorated and honoured across the country every year on September 11th. It is a day to honour people who have given their lives to conserve India's animals, forests, and jungles.

Many people and villages still rely solely on the forest for their livelihood. People also treat the flora and fauna as though they were members of their own families. Many even put their lives on the line to guard and safeguard them, which is why the day is commemorated to honour and recognize their accomplishments.

Representational image.Photo by Dario Krejci on Unsplash

History associated with National Forest Martyrs Day

This day was officially marked in the year 2013 after the Ministry of Environment and Forest made the statement. The government chose this date (September 11) because the Khejarli massacre occurred in the nation on this day in 1730.

The troops began cutting trees on the command of the then-king of Rajasthan, Maharaja Abhay Singh, to provide timber for a new palace. A woman known as Amrita Devi offered her head instead of the holy Khejarli tree at the time. People in the village were outraged by the conduct and offered their lives in exchange for trees.

Following her beheading, the army slaughtered around 350 individuals, including Amrita's children. When the king learned of the atrocity, he immediately ordered his soldiers to execute the individuals on the spot and apologized to the Bishnoi community. King Maharaja Abhay Singh apologized to the community and issued a declaration that no trees would be cut down or animals would be killed in the areas surrounding the Bishnoi villages.

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To commemorate the day, numerous educational institutions across India host events to increase awareness about the need of safeguarding trees, forests, and the environment in general. Various tournaments are also organized to encourage children to participate and become aware of the need for forest conservation.