Pal-Dadhvav Massacre of Gujarat – UPSC Prelims

Pal-Dadhvav Massacre of Gujarat::
  • The Pal-Dadhvav massacre took place on 7th March, 1922, in the Pal-Chitariya and Dadhvaav villages of Sabarkantha district, then part of Idar state (Now Gujrat).
  • 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.
  • Tejawat, who belonged to Koliyari village in the Mewad region of Rajasthan, had also mobilised Bhils from Kotda Chhavni, Sirohi, and Danta to participate.
  • The impact of the protest was felt in Vijaynagar, Dadhvaav, Poshina and Khedbrahma, which are now talukas of Sabarkantha; the Aravalli districts, Banaskantha and Danta of Banaskantha district; and Kotda Chhavni, Dungarpur, Chittor, Sirohi, Banswada and Udaipur of Rajasthan, all of which were then princely states.
  • The movement was to protest against the land revenue tax (lagaan) imposed on the peasants by the British and feudal lords.
  • The British Paramilitary force was on hunt for Tejawat. It heard of this gathering and reached the spot.
  • Nearly 200 bhils under the leadership of Tejawat lifted their bows and arrows. But, the Britishers opened fire on them. Nearly 1,000 tribals (Bhils) fell to bullets.
  • While the British claimed some 22 people were killed, the Bhils believe 1,200-1,500 of them died.
  • Tejawat, however, escaped and later “returned to the spot to christen it ‘Veer Bhumi’.
  • Why in News? Gujarat government marked 100 years of the Pal-Dadhvav killings, calling it a massacre “bigger than the Jallianwala Bagh”.
Who was Motilal 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. To this day, local tribals recount the Pal-Dadhvav massacre in songs sung at weddings and fairs. One such song is ‘Hansu dukhi, duniya dukhi’.
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