Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday promised the management of the Gurdwara Shaheedganj in Ajnala town of Amritsar district that the State government would allocate a suitable place for cremating the remains of the 282 martyrs of the 1857 uprising that were recovered from a well inside the shrine’s premises.

President of the gurdwara’s managing committee Amarjit Singh Sarkaria told TheHindu that Mr. Badal had called to say that the State government would construct an appropriate memorial as well. The remains were recovered from the “Shaheedanwala khu” (well of the martyrs) after three days of digging.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar Ravi Bhagat visited the spot with senior officers of the civil and police administration and met members of the Gurdwara management.

Local citizens wanted the approach road to the shrine to be widened and the incident included in historical references to India’s freedom movement. The officers also visited Dadiyan Sofia village, which lies across the Ravi river, where another 218 mutineers were shot by British troops.

The Chief Minister himself is expected to visit the spot after the ongoing Assembly session. The State’s department for cultural affairs, archaeology and museums has been directed to initiate the process to record the event and prepare a report for building a memorial. According to available records, 500 soldiers of the 26th Native Infantry Regiment had revolted at Mian Mir cantonment near Lahore in 1857 and proceeded to join their comrades at Delhi and Meerut. Of them, 282 were brought to Ajnala where, on the orders of the then Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar F.H. Cooper, they were shot and their bodies dumped in a dried up well known as “Kalianwala khu” (well of the black people).

Mr. Sarkaria said 90 skulls, 170 jaw bones, at least 5000 teeth and a large number of other skeletal remains had been recovered. Two military medals belonging to the reign of Queen Victoria, more than five dozen one rupee coins of the East India Company minted between 1834 and 1840, three gold lockets, some bronze bracelets, armlets and rings were also recovered.

The management has decided to once again scan and sift through the debris for more remains.

Keywords: 1857 martyrs