Bhagat Movement or Bheel Movements under Govind Giri
The early movements of the Bheels were spontaneous and were caused as a reaction to the new system. The British Government
took various measures to check the Bhil activities in future. On the one hand they announced some concessions to the Bhils and on the other they established an efficient network of military and civil control of the Bhil areas. These efforts succeeded in keeping the Bhils peaceful for a long time in Mewar State.
Govindgiri was born in Bansia village in Dungarpur state. Govindgiri was a social & religious reformer and engaged himself in “improving the moral character, habits, and religious practices” of the adivasis (tribals). In 1883, he started Samp Sabha – an organisation to unite the Bheels.
A Social reform movement among the Bhils was launched by Govindgirim, where, he tried to uplift the moral and material life of the Bheels through social and religious preachings. The teachings of Govindgiri awakened the Bhils and the social religious movement culminated into politico-economic revolt of the Bhils, which is also known as Bhagat Movement.
Govindgir preached crusade against the authorities to overthrow the oppressive rule and reestablish the Bhil power in Bhil tracts. In April 1913 Govindgiri was arrested by the Dungarpur Police and released with advice of leaving Dungarpur State territories. Govindgiri replied to his persecution by uniting his followers and planned to establish a Bheel State. Consequently, Govindgiri with his followers moved to the hill of Mangarh on the border of Banswara and Sunth States. These developments alarmed the states of Sunth, Banswara, Dungarpur and Idar. All the states approached their concerned British officers to suppress the Bhils.
On 10th November 1913, two companies of the Mewar Bhil corps, one company of 104th Wellesley s Rifles, one company of 7th Rajput regiment encircled the Mangarh hill.
On 17th November 1913, the British forces attacked the Mangarh hill. Initially, the Bheels fought with valor against the superior British forces but later surrendered. Govindgiri along with the followers was arrested and sent to Ahmedabad jail, where he was awarded death sentence. Later in appeal in higher court, the sentence was reduced to life-term. But he was eventually released after 7 years.