Remains of Ajnala martyrs deteriorating fast: Historians

Jalandhar, Punjab: The rapid degeneration of the bones excavated from the ‘Kalianwala Khu’ in Ajnala around a month ago has become a cause for concern among historians.

Historian Surinder Kochhar, who led the excavation of the 282 soldiers killed in 1857, alleged the government was taking too long to conserve the remains.

“People from all over the world are concerned about the preservation of the remains, but our government seems least interested. As many as 90 skulls were excavated from the well, but only 15 are left. The bones are disintegrating fast,” he said.

Kochhar further said the remaining 15 may also disintegrate in the next few days. “I had asked the government to conserve the bones in a temperature controlled environment immediately. It hasn’t been done in over a month. If these bones are lost, the Indian government will find itself in an embarrassing position,” he said.

On February 27, Kocchar had submitted his report to the government immediately after the excavations. “Currently, all the remains have been kept in basic wooden boxes. I had anticipated a better plan. Sometimes, ignorant villagers trying to clean the 72 coins found from the well inadvertently damage the imprints,” he rued. The government had so far only committed to submit a report on the issue, he said.

SS Channy, Principal Secretary (Home), said, “These bones can’t be kept in jars unlike others stored in hospitals. We also have to determine the identity of the soldiers. We will soon meet the representatives of the Government Medical College and PGI, Chandigarh, on April 16. Our priority will be to shift the bones immediately.”

Meanwhile, the British government is yet to respond to the Indian Workers Association (Britain) request on providing information regarding the names, ranks and other personal details of the martyrs.

“The Union Ministries of Defence and Cultural Affairs are pursuing the matter with the British government,” Channy said.

He further said that after the government report was released on April 16, a monument similar to the war memorial would be built in memory of the martyrs. He said land for the memorial would be sought by the Ministry of Defence.

Source: The Tribune

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