1857 revolt: Remains of martyrs of 1857 Uprising exhumed in Punjab

The skeletal remains of the Indian soldiers, who were killed by the British troops for participating in the First War of Independence in 1857, are exhumed at Ajnala well in Amritsar district, Punjab. These were our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives during the First War of Independence in 1857. 

  • ‘Kalian Wala Khuh’: Martyrs place where the remains of over 250 Indian soldiers dumped unceremoniously by the British in a deep well at Ajnala in the wake of the 1857 uprising.
  • Neither the Indian Government nor the Government of Punjab, attempted to extract the bodies of the martyrs and perform the last rites and restore the honour of the soldiers of the first freedom struggle.
  • Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Committee (a gurdwara in the border town of Ajnala) exhumed the remains of Indian soldiers who were executed by the British authorities for participating in the 1857 mutiny.
  • The exercise is being done to perform last rites of these soldiers after160 years.
  • The well that was dug was previously known as kalianwala khu (well of the black people) has been renamed as Shaheedanwala khu (well of the martyrs). 

What British authorities did with the Indian soldiers of the 26th Bengal Native Infantry (in Lahore) in 1857, when they revolted against the East India Company?
In the 1857 mutiny, around 500 soldiers of 26th Native Infantry Regiment revolted at Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore.

  • They marched towards Ajnala from Lahore after hearing the reports of the Sepoy mutiny in Meerut where Hindu and Muslim troops rebelled against the East India Company over the cartridges for their rifles being greased with animal fat.
  • When soldiers were moving ahead to join the revolt, they had an encounter with the British troops on the banks of the Ravi, where 220 soldiers attained martyrdom and their bodies were thrown into the river.
  • The remaining 280 soldiers were arrested and were confined in the overcrowded barracks located at Ajnala tehsil complex.
  • Later, the British killed these soldiers too and buried them in Kalian Wala Khuh.

India‘s First War of Independence (Indian Rebellion of 1857)

  • Also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, etc.
  • A violent revolt against the British rule.
  • Immediate cause of Revolt: The introduction of Enfield greased rifles whose cartridges were said to have a greased cover made of beef and pork sparked off the revolt. It antagonized both Hindu and Muslim soldiers.
  • The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the East India Company’s army on 10th May 1857, in the town of Meerut. It soon escalated into other mutinies and civil rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region.
  • Leaders of 1857 revolt: Mangal Pandey, Rani Lakshmi bai, Bahadur Shah II, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Babu Kunwar Singh,  Nana Saheb Peshwa, Bakht Khan, etc.

Outcome of revolt: British victory –  Suppression of the rebellion, End of the Mughal and Maratha Empires, End of Company rule in India and Transfer of rule to the British crown.