Ajnala gurdwara seeks site to carry out cremation and build memorial

While the Union and the State governments have failed to act, the management of a gurdwara in the border town of Ajnala in Amritsar district on Sunday claimed to have exhumed the remains and other articles of at least 282 persons who were executed by the British authorities for participating in the 1857 mutiny.

They now await allocation of a suitable site by the State government to carry out cremation and build a memorial for the martyrs.

Talking to The Hindu over the phone, Gurdwara Shaheedganj Shaheedanwala Khu president Amarjit Singh Sarkaria said on Sunday that with the help of villagers, they initiated the digging of the site, within the precincts of the shrine about three days ago. In the presence of thousands of people, volunteers succeeded to recover the mortal remains of those martyred 157 years ago. He said that nobody from the Central or the State government or the Amritsar district administration had contacted them.

Mr. Sarkaria said the volunteers had reached the bottom of the well in which the bodies had been dumped. After counting the number of bones of the legs and arms, they were quite sure they had recovered the remains of 282 mutineers, who belonged to the 26th Native Infantry Regiment stationed at Mian Mir near Lahore. He said that the skulls of some soldiers were intact, while others were damaged in the digging the very hard soil. He said some coins were recovered from bones that could have belonged to clenched fists. Other articles have also been recovered from the site which is 26 km away from the Jallianwala Bagh, where British troops led by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer massacred hundreds of civilians on April 1919.

Mr. Sarkaria said that the remains and articles of the soldiers had been kept in cases as the management was awaiting communication from the government to allot a site for cremation, where the people want a memorial for these martyrs of India's first war of Independence. He demanded that the administration, which kept away from such an important event, could at least provide some security for the remains and prevent any mischief.

Mr. Sarkaria said that the management was aware throughout that the well existed on the premises of the shrine. The well which was previously known as “kalianwala khu” (well of the black people) was renamed “Shaheedanwala khu” (well of the martyrs).

He said that after the construction of a new building for the shrine, the management decided to raze the previous structure about two weeks ago. After the debris was removed they could locate the position of the well.

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