Gujarat’s tableau for the Republic Day parade this year has been themed on tribal revolutionaries from the state who contributed to India’s independence struggle, with a special focus on an event in Sabarkantha in 1922 that historians refer to as “Gujarat’s Jallianwala Bagh.”
The theme of the tableau, titled “Tribal Revolutionaries of Gujarat”, would depict an around 100-year-old story in Pal and Dadhvaav villages of Sabarkantha district in north Gujarat. “The Britishers had massacred 1,200 tribals, an event worse than Jallianwala Bagh. This republic day, the Gujarat government, through a tableau, will present this untold story of bravery and sacrifices of the Tribals,” a release issued by the government stated.
“On the day of Amalki Ekadashi (March 7, 1922) just before Holi, freedom-seeking tribals gathered under the leadership of Motilal Tejawat, known as ‘Gandhi of Koliyari, at a fair. At the very moment, soldiers from Mewad Bhil Corps arrived at the procession and under direction from its officer Major H G Saturn fired on the gathering. In the unprovoked firing, about 1,200 innocent tribals were killed,” the release stated. It further stated that “Two wells-Dhekhadiya and Dudhiya-were overflowing with the bodies of about 1,200 innocent tribals.”
“This horrific incident, which took place just three years after the Jallianwala Bagh incident, was forgotten,” the release states. It adds that “on April 13, 1919, around 600 innocent civilians were killed at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.” It also mentions how the then chief minister Narendra Modi “brought this crucial chapter of history before the world” by building a memorial at the place where the event occurred.
Arun Vaghela, head of History Department at Gujarat University, said, “There is a lack of evidence on the exact number of persons killed in the event but legend has it that hundreds of them were killed. There are songs and stories in the Bhil community that recounts the event. I appreciate the fact that the state government has chosen to highlight this historical event to represent Gujarat.”
Vaghela has written on book “Tribal Movements During Colonial Gujarat” where he mentioned about this incident. He added, “This is an important historical incident, which hasn’t been highlighted as much as it should have been.”