Exhumation of the remains of more than 250 Indian soldiers, who were dumped unceremoniously in a deep well by the British in the wake of the 1857 uprising, was stopped on Sunday, but it remained unclear as when the martyrs will be given funeral rites.
The local Gurudwara Shaheed Gunj Managing Committee, which had stumbled upon the well, Kaliyan Wala Khuh, recently rechristened as Shaheedan Wala Khuh, about a year ago during the excavation of the area, would now approach the government for providing them land to conduct the funeral rites of the martyrs.
The funeral process could take some time, after which the ashes would be immersed in the Ganga.
Members of the Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj Managing Committee said though they expected a favourable response from the government in this regard, it could take some time to give funeral to the martyrs.
"We shall write to the government to provide us land for performing funeral rites of the martyrs. Considering the fact that no government official has come to the area, it would take a while before we can get the land for the purpose," said Amarjit Singh Sarkaria, head, Gurudwara Shaheed Gunj Managing Committee.
As of now, the skeletal remains have been placed in coffin boxes at the gurdwara. The gurdwara authorities said these remains would also be displayed for the public.
The work on exhuming the remains started on Friday and three skeletons were retrieved that day.
"In case the government fails to provide land, the Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj Managing Committee will raise funds for buying land," Sarkaria said.
Sarkaria said the skeletal remains are of the soldiers killed by the British after they revolted at Mian Mir cantonment in Lahore, during the 1857 mutiny.
He added that research was carried out by historian Surinder Kotchar, who has documentary evidence on this.
Historian Surinder Kochhar said, "The well is 20-foot deep, but excavation was undertaken till 14 feet beneath. The remains of 282 martyrs were recovered by Sunday. Ninety skulls, 170 intact jaws, over 5,000 teeth, 70 coins of Rs. 1 denomination of East India Company, gold beads, three gold amulets, six rings, four bangles, two Victoria Army medals and few other belongings were recovered during the excavation."
"These have been kept safely and will be displayed later at a museum which will come up at the proposed memorial. Twenty six skeletons joined with skulls were retrieved," he said.
"There are signs of struggle since the people, who were still alive after being dumped inside the well, must have tried to get out of it," he said.
Kabul Singh Shahpur, general secretary, Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj-Shaheedanwala Khuh Committee, said no individual or political party would be allowed to politicise the issue.
He said Ajnala sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) visited the site on the third day and assured that the government would soon erect a memorial and samadhis of the martyrs at the site.
Earlier, a gurdwara had been erected at the site where the well was located.
The excavation was started in December 2012 during which a skeleton was spotted. The digging led to the exact spot where the well was situated — under the gurdwara where Sikh scriptures were installed inside. The gurdwara building atop the well was demolished and a new building was erected at a nearby spot.
90 skulls, 170 intact jaws, over 5,000 teeth; 26 skeletons joined with skulls
70 coins of Rs. 1 denomination of East India Company, two Victoria Army medals
Gold beads, three gold amulets, six rings, four bangles and few other belongings
These have been kept safely and will be displayed later at a museum to come up at the proposed memorial