The Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Management Committee, along with historian Surinder Kochhar, has outrightly rejected recent claims by some anthropology experts of Panjab University, Chandigarh, that the human remains excavated from a well in Ajnala could also include the ‘remains of British men and women’.
Questioning this ‘new theory’, Kochhar said, ”Could the British rulers of the times have dumped the remains of their own kith and kin in a well. This theory is just absurd”.
Kochhar, along with members of the Shaheed Ganj committee, is credited with having dug up the human remains of 282 Indian soldiers of the 1857 uprising, which was the first war of independence against the British. Some of these Indian soldiers, after their arrest, were shot dead and their remains were thrown into the well while some others were thrown into it alive. The well was thereafter covered and it began to be known as Kalianwala Khuh.
“It was on the orders of the then British administrators of Amritsar that these hapless Indian soldiers were killed and thrown into the well. No Britisher, barring the two or three of ficers who were shot dead at Mian Mir Cantt near Lahore by the mutineers, were killed by Indian soldiers”, stated Kochhar who also pointed out that the soldiers were all unarmed when they left their barracks and revolted.
On the criticism by the Panjab University experts that the skeletal remains that were d ug up were not preserved properly, Kochhar admitted that his team and he were all amateurs.
“When not even the state government came forward, it was left to us to dig up the well to unravel the truth of the brutality of the British. Even after we dug out the remains, no one from the state came forward and we had no knowledge of how to preserve these remains”, he added.