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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Martyrs' skeletal remains begin their final journey

Shaheen P Parshad  Amritsar, August 23, 2014
First Published: 22:57 IST(23/8/2014) | Last Updated: 08:00 IST(24/8/2014)

The skeletal remains of the 282 martyrs of the First War of India's Independence (1857), who were gunned down by the British in Ajnala and dumped ignominiously in a well later called 'Kalianwala Khuh', on Saturday began their final journey to Haridwar - courtesy the efforts of Gurdwara Shaheed Gunj managing committee.

The gurdwara managing committee spearheaded the work for exhumation of the skeletal remains and arranged for their immersion in the Ganga on Sunday.

A cavalcade of cars pursuing a decorated truck carrying the skeletal remains of the martyrs left for Haridwar at 6am on Saturday.

Prior to the departure, BJP senior leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla and others paid homage to the skeletal remains of the martyrs, which was decorated with colour papers, while the truck was decked up with flags and banners bearing - '1857 ke shaheedon ki asthiyon ki antim yaatra Ajnala se Haridwar (The last journey of the skeletal remains of 1857 martyrs)'.

Surinder Kochhar, who has been associated with the exhumation of the martyrs' remains, said on August 24, 'shradh' (memorial service) ceremony would be performed under the aegis of Dr Pranav Pandya, chancellor of Dev Sanskriti Vidyalya and head of Akhil Vishwa Gayatri Parivar, at Gayatri Teerth in Haridwar from 7am to 8.30am.

"Later, residents and scholars will take the skeletal remains for immersion," he said. The remains of the 282 martyrs were exhumed from Kalianwala Khuh in February.

In April, the gurdwara committee had started the process of giving the martyrs a decent farewell and immersed four trolleys of blood-stained mud dug out from the well in the Ravi - at the spot where nearly 150 of their injured colleagues of the 26 Native Infantry Regiment were drowned in 1857.

A 'shraddhanjali samaroh' was held in Ajnala on August 1 at the spot where the British had gunned down the soldiers of the 26th Native Infantry, where residents of the area paid last respect to the martyrs, who could not be cremated as two of them were identified as Muslims.

"As it was impossible to segregate the remains, the gurdwara managing committee dropped the cremation plan and it was decided to immerse the remains in the Ganga in Haridwar on August 24," said Kochhar.
He added that apart from this, the land offered by the district administration for the cremation of the remains was also not vacant.

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