Banswara massacre is also known as Rajathan’s ‘Jallianwala Bagh’, and is a very little known event of the Brtish Raj era.
On November 17, 1913, Banswara district of South Rajasthan was witness to a little-known massacre of around 1500 tribals by the British, echoing the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which 329 people were killed in firing.
British forces, supported by the forces of the princely states, opened fire on tribals who had gathered on the Mangarh hillock situated in the Aravali mountains on the Rajasthan-Gujarat border.
The tribals were led by their leader Govind Guru who inspired them to throw off the yoke of British rule.
Govind Guru, influenced by social reformers like Dayanand Saraswati, launched the ‘Bhagat movement among the Bhils asking them to adhere to vegetarianism, and abstain from all types of intoxicants.
The movement slowly took on a political hue and turned into a movement against the oppressive policies of the British.
The Bhils began opposing taxes imposed by the British and forced labour imposed by the princely states of Banswara, Santrampur, Dungarpur and Kushalgarh.
Worried by the tribal revolt, the Britishers and princely states decided to crush the uprising.
From October 1913, Govind Guru asked his followers to gather at Mangarh hill from where they would conduct their operations. The British asked them to vacate Mangarh hill by November 15, but they refused.
On November 17, the tribals were gathering for a meeting when the British forces under Maj S Bailey and Capt E Stiley opened fire from cannons and guns on the crowd.
Though there are no official estimates, locals say about 2500 people were killed in cold blood.
Govind guru was captured and exiled from the area. He was imprisoned in Hyderabad jail and released in 1919 on grounds of good behavior. But as he was exiled from his homeland, he settled in Limdi in Gujarat where he passed away in 1931.
The site of the massacre is tody known as Mangarh dham and the locals are demanding that a national memorial be built there in memory of the martyrs.