Surinder Kocchhar, the researcher and historian who spearheaded a campaign to exhume the bodies of 1857 Indian soldiers from a well in Ajnala, Monday said he would move court to demand that the Union government seek all details of the 282 martyrs from the British government.
“I have been told by my lawyer that the case has to be filed in the Supreme Court. I will try to complete all formalities on Tuesday,” said Kocchhar. He said he was hopeful that the British government would have all the details.
Kocchhar said the analysis of information he gathered during the course of his research work on Kallianwala Khoo, also known as Shaheedan Wala Khoo, revealed that the Indian soldiers killed and buried in the well were Hindus. “In his book The crisis in the Punjab, Frederick Cooper, the then Amritsar deputy commissioner, wrote that ‘decorative necklaces’ worn by the soldiers were removed from their necks before they were buried,” Kocchhar said, adding that Cooper mentioned the word, janeoo, to explain the “decorative necklaces”.
He said a request had been made to the state government to provide space for cremation of the exhumed remains.
“We will wait for three months. During this period, the government can take any number of samples it wants to from the exhumed remains. After that we will consign the remains to flames,” Kocchhar added.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat Monday visited the excavation site and also Dadian village, where 218 soldiers of the 500-strong platoon who had revolted at Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore during the 1857 mutiny, were killed by British troops.
Bhagat was handed over a charter of demands by the NGO headed by Kocchar and the gurdwara management committee that had undertaken the excavation work. The demands included introduction of a chapter on the episode in history books and changing the name of Kallianwali village to one associated with the martyrs, among other things.
He said the memorandum had been submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Bhagat has, meanwhile, asked the state’s culture department to make arrangements for procuring samples for carbon dating and collection of DNA from the exhumed remains.
Badal promises memorial, museum
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh Monday spoke to Shaheedan Wala Khoo Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Amarjit Singh Sarkaria and assuring him of setting up a state-of-the-art memorial and museum in memory of the martyrs. Sarkaria said Badal also assured him that the government would ensure adequate space for the memorial. Amarinder has meanwhile said the remains of all martyrs be cremated with full military honours. ENS