Chandigarh: Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Monday demanded that all 282 Indian soldiers, whose mortal remains have been retrieved from `Shaheedan da Khu` in Ajnala, be cremated with full military honours.
"Giving them a funeral with military honours will be a beginning towards the end and will be a befitting tribute to their great sacrifice that marked the beginning of India`s struggle for freedom," Singh said in a statement here.
The senior Congress leader said the Defence Ministry must conduct DNA tests on the bodies that can help trace their relatives. The 282 Indian soldiers who had sacrificed their lives "deserve to be honoured and their memories preserved", he said.
Volunteers of local NGOs and Gurdwara management committees had retrieved the mortal remains of 282 Indian soldiers who were dumped in the well by British troops about 157 years ago.
The digging which commenced on February 28 at Ajnala town, close to the Indo-Pak border, ended yesterday with the recovery of the mortal remains of all the soldiers.
According to local Gurdwara management committee head Amarjit Singh Sarkaria and NGOs led by historian Surinder Kochar, as many as 500 Indian soldiers had revolted at Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore during the 1857 mutiny and swam across the Ravi river to reach Ajnala town of Amritsar.
Of them, 218 were killed by British soldiers at Dadian Sofian village near here.
The remaining 282 were incarcerated in a cage-like room. While many of them died of asphyxiation, the rest were shot dead and their bodies thrown into a well, which later came to be known as "Kalianwala Khu".
While `khu` means a well, the word `kalianwala` has been derived from `kale` (blacks), as the colonialists used to call the Indians. This site is also known as `Shaheedan da Khu` (Well of Martyrs).