In Van Mahotsav, Modi dedicates forest to tribal martyr
Launching the 63rd Van Mahotsav from Mangadh Hill in the Panchmahals district, bordering Rajasthan, Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that the state will celebrate the centenary of tribal reformist Guru Govind Giri's freedom movement next year.
Modi dedicated a Govind Guru Smriti Van to the "social and religious reformist" with 1,507 trees, as a mark of respect to 1,507 tribals who were killed in the freedom struggle against the British in 1913.
Modi announced several sops for tribals in the state. He said his government will provide two lakh accommodations to those living below poverty line by December.
"We have opened Science stream higher secondary schools in 45 tribal dominated talukas, and the government plans to increase the funds for Van Bandhu Kalyaan Yojna projects to Rs 40,000 crore," he said, adding that the government also plans to develop Mangadh as a pilgrimage site.
Govind Guru's grandson speaks
Mangiri Hari Giri was busy preaching his disciples at his house in Banasia village of Rajasthan's Dungarpur district, oblivious to the fact that the Gujarat government had a big plan to commemorate the martyrdom of his grandfather.
"Some officials came looking for me at my house two days ago and said Modi wanted to felicitate me at a function in Mangadh," said Giri, whose grandfather worked for the upliftment of tribals in the region that straddled Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in the early twentieth century.
Giri said this had irked the then rulers so much that they connived with the British to kill as many as 1,507 Bhil tribes at the Mangadh hills on November 17, 1913. "My grandfather was a businessman before becoming the disciple of Rajugadh Maharaj Guru. He preached his disciples to live a fearless life and how to use natural resources," he said.
The rulers of Guru Govind's time were "frightened" of his growing influence and had him arrested twice on false charges. He was sent to jails in Ahmedabad and Andman & Nicobar, and later exiled from his native place in Rajasthan to Limdi Jalod in Gujarat, Giri said, adding, "Here he organised a religious function that was attended by 150,000 tribals and their local saints from far off places." "He his disciples to follow non-violent mode of resistance, but when thousands of tribals were surrounded by gun-wielding British soldiers, they resisted them with bow and arrow, and were butchered," he said.
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