The Bhil tribals of Madhya Pradesh raised their demand for converting the Chhitu Kirad fort in Alirajpur district into a heritage monument on the eve of the Independence Day.
Tribal leader Chhitu Kirad had fought bravely against the colonial regime in 1883 and became an inspiration for many tribal fighters for Independence.
The fort, which is about 15 kilometres from Alirajpur in Sorwa village, had long been housing a police station. Recently, it hit the headlines when the band Indian Ocean had shot a song named Chhitu here.
The tribal leaders had long been fighting for getting the fort a heritage protection and declared Kirad as a freedom fighter but couldn’t succeed beyond getting the police station shifted from there. However, some policemen are still using the fort as their residence, said Shankar Talwade, a tribal leader.
Alirajpur collector Sanjay Verma said that he had received the memorandum on Friday. “I will conduct a survey and examine all the facts related to Chhitu Kirad and then will send a letter to state government in this regard.”
Tribal rights activist Rahul Banerjee said the fort was very important for the tribals and Kirad has still not been given due recognition by the government as a freedom fighter. The tribals want that the fort be conserved as the Kirad memorial, he said, adding that the government should respond to the tribals’ demand expeditiously.
The British extended their rule in western MP from the Nimar region to the Alirajpur area in 1869 during the reign of Rana Gangadev.
However, Chhitu Kirad, who was the leader of Sorwa village, resisted the British move and mobilized masses against paying the taxes in 1873. This angered the British who tactically forced to stop Kirad to stop his disruptive activities. Matters worsened when there was a drought in 1877.
On January 7, 1883, Kirad along with the mercenary soldiers of the Rana of Alirajpur revolted against the British. Kirad with his 4000 strong army laid siege to Alirajpur which was a major treasure camp of the British and demanded the Rana rule back in the region as a bargain.