Mutiny martyrs' remains exhumed in Punjab

Bones, skulls, bullets, teeth and other skeletal remains of Indian soldiers, who were killed by the British troops after the 1857 mutiny and dumped unceremoniously in a deep well, were exhumed on Friday in Punjab’s Ajnala.

The exercise is being done to perform last rites of these soldiers, 160 years later. Historian Surinder Kotchar, who has been involved in the entire process from day one, told Deccan Herald that work will continue on Saturday. “We could see at least seven skeletons inside the well. There will be more as the digging goes further down,” he said. 

At least 282 Indian soldiers were killed by the British troops.  The management committee of the local Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj in Ajnala has also been actively involved. In fact, the well remained sub-soil until the local shrine committee began excavating it recently. The well was discovered right beneath the Sikh shrine complex. The bodies would be taken to Ganga for ceremonial immersion.

The shrine committee began to excavate the area around the Gurdwara in December 2012, with the idea of locating the well and digging further. However, the excavation was put off since continuing with it would have brought down the shrine. Surinder Kotchar said there was documentary evidence to establish that the Indian soldiers were killed and dumped here. “The trial record conducted by the British into the uprising by Indian soldiers bears testimony to this fact,” he said.

On July 30, 1857, around 500 soldiers revolted at Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore following the uprising. They swam across the Ravi river to reach Ajnala. British soldiers killed 218 Indian soldiers at Dadian Sofian village near here.

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