Remains of 100 Indian soldiers excavated from well in Punjab

The excavation work at a well in Ajnala near Amritsar, in which 282 Indian soldiers were thrown into on August 1, 1857, on Saturday threw up the remains of around 100 martyrs.

Sikh historian Surinder Kochar and Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj Management Committee have started excavation of the Rebel’s Grave, popularly known as the ‘ kaalon ka kuan’, where the Indian soldiers were pushed into by British officials.

“The digging of the well continued throughout the day and we found mortal remains of around 100 soldiers, including 50 skulls and 40 jaws, teeth, 47 one rupee coins of the East Indian Company, besides golden jewellery and other goods,” Kochar said.

The committee said the excavation work will continue on Sunday to trace remaining mortal remains of 182 human soldiers.

The well used as a mass grave has been covered by a 10- feet layer of soil.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site when the excavation work was started.

There were tears in hundreds of eyes when the committee members found some bones.

The crowd gathered around the site got emotional on seeing the mortal remains of the martyrs after 157 years.

” The whole of Ajanala was crying today.

Nobody thought about these martyrs for 157 years. They deserve all prayers and will be laid to rest as per faith. We will also be informing the government before the cremation,” Gurdwara committee head Amarjit Singh Sarkaria said.

The August 1, 1857, homicide was perpetrated by Frederick Henry Cooper, the then deputy commissioner of Amritsar, and colonel James George Smith Neill, who was noted for his ruthlessness and indiscriminate killing of Indian rebels and civilians.

Frederick Henry Cooper in his book The Crisis in the Punjab: From the 10th of May Until the Fall of Delhi also mentions this incident as ” awful tragedy”.

Around 500 Indian soldiers of Regiment 26 of Bengal Native Infantry had fled the Mia Meer Cantonment of Lahore. While 150 soldiers were gunned down, some were swept away in a swollen river. The British army was able to capture 283 sepoys, who were tied with a rope and were brought to Ajnala. According to Cooper, 282 captured soldiers were thrown into the well.