On November 17, 1913, the British gunned down more than 1500 Bhils on Mangadh hill, on the border between Rajasthan and Gujarat The PM of Britain might have apologized for the Jallianwallah Bhag massacre but the British have so much blood on their hands that they will have to apologize every day for the numerous massacres they committed during their reign. Will they?
On November 17, 1913, the British gunned down more than 1500 Bhils on Mangadh hill which lies on the border between Rajasthan and Gujarat. The innocent people had gathered at Mangadh for a social cause under the leadership of Guru Gobind Dev ji. It was here that the massacre of Bhils took place. India today knows about Jalianwala Bagh but many do not even know about the Mangadh massacre. The 1500 Bhils were brutally murdered by the British troops only because they revolted against the oppressive policies of the British government.
In the late 19th century, Shri Gobind Guru initiated the ‘Bhagat Movement’ among the Bhils to free them from all the social evils as well as to inspire them to revolt against the oppressive policies of the British.
In 1903, Gobind Guru set up his main dhuni on Mangadh Hill. The Bhils were mobilized by him who then placed a charter of 33 demands before the British which were to be met by 1910. The demands were primarily related to forced labour, high tax imposed on Bhils, harassment of the guru's followers by the British and rulers of princely states. The Bhil struggle for justice under Gobind Guru took a serious turn after the British and local rulers refused to accept the demands and tried to break the Bhagat movement.
It makes me wonder as to why the Bhagat movement of the Bhils never featured prominently in our History books. It also pains to know that the British government does not feel guilty for this brutal massacre which took 1500 lives of the Bhils nor they saw the need to tender an apology till date. The Bhils were only against forced labour, high taxes and the Begar (unpaid labour). We should realize that they were killed for protesting against these basic demands.
An historical account of the Mangadh massacre reads: “The Mangadh revolt had led to simultaneous uprisings by Gobind Guru's followers in the neighbouring princely states of Banswara, Santrampur, Dungarpur and Kushalgarh. The British and the local rulers were convinced that the movement had to be quelled at all cost. An ultimatum was given to the Bhils to vacate Mangadh by November 15, 1913. They refused. The Bhils turned Mangadh hill into a fortress and armed themselves with country-made guns and swords. They took on the British forces believing Gobind Guru's spiritual powers would turn the bullets into wasps. The combined forces of the British, comprising of the Mewar Bhil Corps and the police forces of the rulers of princely states led by three British officers, surrounded Mangadh and started firing in the air to scare the Bhils away. But when they stood their ground and fought back, the British finally perpetrated the massacre.”
We cannot imagine that 1500 people were killed brutally only for demanding justice and even more shocking and painful fact is that the British Government did not think it prudent enough to express regret for this massacre. In the backdrop of the apology to the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre by the British, it brings to mind another question.
Why did the earlier Indian governments not demand an apology from the British Government for the Mangadh massacre?
This is because we ourselves were not well aware of this revolt and actions of the British. It is also because the revolt and the consequent massacre took place in the remote areas and the Bhils had no medium to communicate the events to the outside world. They neither played victim not compromised with their identity to find a mention in the history books written by the Marxist historians. They stuck to their identity and did not sacrifice their “Swadharma” to cater to the self-serving historians. They stuck to their value system and that is why they were ignored. During the last 70 years, until and unless their sacrifice were not cited by some elite gentlemen, they would have been ignored.
But now, we are grateful to Narendra Modi and Vasundhara Raje for their initiative to develop the “Mangadh” site which captures the essence and emotions of this great sacrifice.
So why did the UK Govt not express any regret over Mangadh massacre till date?
We need to think over this as to why “Mangadh Massacre” was not recognized. There is a pattern in our History which was written by Marxist historians, where they totally ignored the native people of India, who were our true and proud freedom fighters.
While Congress claims credit for Independence, I hear the voices of such unsung heroes. I feel immense pain when the Nehru dynasty repeatedly ignored the sacrifice of our native people, who fought for culture, fought for nation and fought for their ‘Swadharma’.
There is a great history of our native people and Jan Jatis like the Bhils. They have struggled a lot to save their lands, forests and culture. They have lost their lives to safeguard their “Swadharma”. Where urban people compromised with the Dharma, these Jan Jatis were the one’s who were fighting tooth and nail to protect their ‘Swadharma’.
Hence we should realize that the freedom movement was not only the struggle which we have read. There were numerous such unsung heroes about whom we must open our eyes and realize their sacrifices due to which we are independent today. Let us raise our voice for our people, for our brave Bhil freedom fighters, for the nationalist leader Gobind Guru, who was also a great social reformer.
As far as the British and their misdeeds are concerned, the British government has to recognize their role and must regret for this bloodbath and tender a formal apology as they have rightly done in the case of Jallianwallah Bagh massacre.