Before we talk about why Bishnoi people took Salman’s blackbuck poaching case so strongly, let’s get done with their history, culture and why Bishnoi love animals so much.
Who are Bishnoi? They are the followers of a religious sect in Hindu culture. They are mostly found in Western Thar Desert of Rajasthan. And, other northern states of India. In some parts of India they are also known as Vishnoi or Prahladpanthi. They worship Lord Vishnu.
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History of Bishnoi People
Guru Jambheshwar (1451 – 1536) founded the Bishnoi sect some 500 years ago. He was born in Pipasar village of Nagaur District in Rajasthan. During that time the region was constantly torn because of war between invading Muslims and local Hindus.
Thus, Guru Jambhoji gave 29 principles to be followed for a harmonious life. These principles revolve around compassion for every living being, preserving biodiversity, praying daily and healthy social behaviour. To this day Bishnoi people live their life accordingly.
Bish in rajasthani means twenty and Noi means nine. Henceforth, Bishnoi signifies 29 principles
Bishnoi People’s Culture
The sect is a very simple and down to earth community in Rajasthan. They still abide by the principles given by their Guru. The prime occupation of Bishnoi people was farming and animal herding. But at present time they are doing well in Military, Police, Government & Private Jobs and businesses.
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They believe compassion for every living being and they protect & trees at any cost. Consequently, herds of deer are found near the villages of Bishnoi people. They wander freely ad often are spotted near humans.
Under any circumstances, if a baby deer is left behind the herd, their woman takes care of them as their own child. And many times that they even feed their breast milk to the calf.
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Khejarli Massacre History
In 1730 AD, Maharaja Abhay Singh of Marwar (Jodhpur) wanted to construct a new palace. He ordered a party of soldiers to chop off trees from Khejarli village. Under the leadership of Amrita Devi, local villagers opposed the party as it was against their faith.
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When soldiers persisted, the villagers offered their lives for every tree chopped. Amrita Devi was the first to sacrifice her life. Soon everyone including women, children, young, old, rich and poor followed.
Till the fateful news reached Maharaja Abhay Singh, some 363 Bishnoi villagers were martyred to save trees
On hearing the dreadful events in Khejarli village Abhay Singh prohibited cutting of green trees and killing of animals with the revenue boundaries of their villages.
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Bishnoi People and Salman Khan
Now that we’re good with the basics, let’s talk about why Bishnoi people have taken Salman Khan’s Blackbuck poaching case so strongly?
During the shoot of Bollywood movie Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman Khan along with Saif Ali Khan, Tabu and Sonali Bendre hunted Blackbucks in Kankani village of Rajasthan. They were spotted by local villagers. Bishnoi villagers registered a complaint against Salman Khan and others for killing wild deer.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act it is prohibited to hunt wild animals in India
Recently, Jodhpur Trial Court convicted Bollywood actor Salman Khan for hunting blackbucks. He is sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined 10,000 INR.
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