Mangarh Massacre: Rajasthan’s Jallianwala Bagh: A lost story

Source: The post is based on the article “Rajasthan’s Jallianwala Bagh: A lost storypublished in Indian Express on 15th November 2022

What is the News?

On November 17, 1913, a horrifying tragedy occurred in Mangarh (Banswada, Rajasthan). British cannons and machine guns are known to have killed more than 1,500 tribals in Mangarh. This tragedy is called as Mangarh Massacre and is also known as Adivasi Jallianwala.

What is Mangarh Massacre?

Bhils, a tribal community faced great troubles at the hands of the rulers of the princely states and the British. 

By the end of the 20th century, the Bhils living in Rajasthan and Gujarat became bonded labour.

The great famine of 1899-1900 across the Deccan and Bombay Presidency, which killed over six lakh people, only made the situation worst for the Bhils.

From this tragedy emerged a social activist named Govind Guru. Mobilized and trained by him, the Bhils placed a charter of 33 demands before the British by 1910 primarily relating to forced labour, high tax imposed on Bhils and harassment of the guru’s followers by the British and rulers of princely states.

The Bhils rejected the British’s attempt to placate them. The British then asked the Bhils to leave Mangarh Hill before 15 November 1913. But that didn’t happen.

On 17 November 1913, the British Indian Army fired indiscriminately on Bhil protesters and it is said that over 1,500 people, including women and children, died in the tragedy.

Who was Govind Guru?

Govind Guru was a revolutionary leader of the tribals of Mangarh. He was a living legend among the Bhil and Garasiya tribal communities.

Before Govind Guru became a leader in India’s freedom struggle, he played an important role in India’s renaissance movement.

At the age of 25, he impressed Swami Dayanand Saraswati, a central figure of that movement in north India. He along with Swami Dayanand Saraswati initiated a wave of social reforms in the tribal areas.

For instance, in 1903, Govind Guru pledged not to drink alcohol, shifting his focus to eradicating social evils, boycotting foreign goods, and ending forced labour among others.

This led to the creation of a Sump (Unity) Sabha, whose first meeting was held on the hilltop in Mangarh. This historical event solidified Mangarh’s significance in Indian history as it became central to the tribal movement in this area.

Bhagat movement initiated in 1908 by Govind Guru where tribals gathered around the fire to reaffirm their oath was also seen by the British as a threat.

After the Mangarh massacre, Govind Guru was given a death sentence, and his wife was arrested. But fearing that the movement of tribal Bhils would turn violent, the British postponed his execution and sentenced him to 20 years of imprisonment on an isolated island.

He lived his last years in Kamboi, Gujarat, where he died on October 30, 1931.

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