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Pal-Dadhvav Massacre


Recently,  the Gujarat government marked 100 years of the Pal-Dadhvav killings, calling it a massacre “bigger than the Jallianwala Bagh”. Before this, the incident had been featured on the state’s Republic Day tableau.


GS II- History

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About Pal-Dadhvav massacre:
  2. Who was Tejawat
  3. Tribal population

About Pal-Dadhvav massacre:

  • The Pal-Dadhvav massacre took place on March 7, 1922, in the Pal-Chitariya and Dadhvaav villages of Sabarkantha district, then part of Idar state.
  • The day was Amalki Ekadashi, which falls just before Holi, a major festival for tribals.
  • Villagers from Pal, Dadhvav, and Chitariya had gathered on the banks of river Heir as part of the ‘Eki movement’, led by one Motilal Tejawat.
  • The movement was to protest against the land revenue tax (lagaan) imposed on the peasants by the British and feudal lords.
  • Tejawat, who belonged to Koliyari village in the Mewad region of Rajasthan, had also mobilised Bhils from Kotda Chhavni, Sirohi, and Danta to participate.
  • Tejawat had been outlawed by the Udaipur state, which had announced a Rs-500 reward on his head.
  • The Mewad Bhil Corps (MBC), a paramilitary force raised by the British that was on the lookout for Tejawat, heard of this gathering and reached the spot.
  • Nearly 1,000 tribals (Bhils) fell to bullets. Tejawat was shot at twice, but was taken to safety by the villagers on a camel. He later “returned to the spot to christen it ‘Veerbhumi’.”
  • While the British claimed some 22 people were killed, the Bhils believe 1,200-1,500 of them died.
  • In the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919, 500-1,000 people are said to have been killed after General Reginald Edward Dyer’s forces opened fire on peaceful protesters.

Who was Tejawat

  • Born into a merchant (Baniya) family in the adivasi-dominated Koliyari village, Tejawat was employed by a landlord, where he worked for eight years.
  • During this period he saw closely how the landlords exploited tribals and would threaten to beat them with shoes if they did not pay the tax
  • Outraged by the atrocities and exploitation of the tribal people, Tejawat quit the job in 1920 and devoted himself to social work and reform.

Tribal population

  • Gujarat has a near 14 per cent tribal population that resides along its northern-eastern stretch, called the ‘poorvi patti’, bordering the districts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
  • Bhils are the dominant tribe in this stretch, which covers the districts of Aravalli, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur, Mahisagar, Narmada, Dahod, Tapi, Navsari and Dang.

-Source: Indian Express

July 2024