The National Forest Martyrs Day is annually observed across India on 11th September to honour people who gave their lives to preserve India’s forests and wildlife. The day is celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the Khejarli Massacre in 1730.
i.In 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) officially declared 11th September to be celebrated as National Forest Martyrs Day.
ii.11th September was chosen as the National Forest Martyrs Day because, on this day in 1730, the Khejarli massacre took place in Rajasthan.
About Khejarli massacre:
i.In 1730, under the order of Maharaja Abhai Singh of Rajasthan, a royal party led by minister Giridhar Bhandari went to Khejarli village to fell some Khejri trees that were sacred to the Bishnoi community.
ii.The villagers led by Amrita Devi Bishnoi refused to surrender their Khejri trees to the King’s men.
iii.This led to the massacre of more than 350 Bishnois, along with Amrita Devi Bishnoi and her daughters, who volunteered to save the trees.
i.National Forest Martyrs Day is celebrated to create awareness among people to preserve the forest and to highlight the importance of trees in protecting the environment.
ii.The Khejarli massacre plays a key role in inspiring many other activists and movements such as the Chipko movement, in which people hugged trees to save them from falling.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC):
Union Minister – Bhupender Yadhav (Rajya Sabha- Rajasthan)
Minister of state – Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Constituency- Buxar, Bihar)