160-yr-old human skeletons from Punjab belong to martyrs of Ganga plain: Study

Researchers have used 50 samples for DNA analysis and 85 specimens for isotope analysis. A study on the same has been published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Genetics’ on 28 April.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  28 April 2022 10:12 AM GMT
160-yr-old human skeletons from Punjab belong to martyrs of Ganga plain: Study

Hyderabad: Scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, along with other eminent scientists have established the roots of the large number of human skeletons that were excavated from an old well in Punjab in early 2014.

A study on the same has been published in the journal 'Frontiers in Genetics' on 28 April.

Dr. J.S Sehrawat, an anthropologist from Panjab University, collaborated with CCMB, Birbal Sahni Institute, Lucknow, and Benaras Hindu University (BHU) to establish the roots of these "martyrs" using DNA and isotope analyses. The finding of this study revealed that the skeletons belonged to residents of the Gangetic plain region.

Some historians believe that these skeletons belong to the people who were killed in riots during the partition of India and Pakistan. The other prevailing belief, based on various historical sources, is that these are skeletons of the Indian soldiers killed by the British army during the revolt of the 1857 Indian freedom struggle.




Researchers have used 50 samples for DNA analysis and 85 specimens for isotope analysis. "DNA analysis helps understand the ancestry of people and isotope analysis sheds light on food habits. Both the research methods supported that the human skeletons found in the well were not of people living in Punjab or Pakistan. Rather, DNA sequences matched with the people from UP, Bihar, and West Bengal," said Dr. K. Thangaraj, chief scientist of CCMB and director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics Hyderabad.

Dr. Sehrawat, the first author of this study, said, "The results from this research are consistent with the historical evidence that the 26th Native Bengal Infantry Battalion consisted of people from the eastern part of Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh."

As per historical records, soldiers from this battalion were posted at Mian-Meer, Pakistan, and killed British officers in a revolt. They were captured by the British army near Ajnala and executed.

Dr. Niraj Rai, the lead researcher of the team and an expert on ancient DNA, said scientific research done by the team helps look at history in a more evidence-based way. Prof. Gyaneshwer Chaubey, from BHU's department of zoology, who played a crucial role in the DNA study, stressed that the findings of this study would add a significant chapter in the history of the unsung heroes of India's first freedom struggle.

Dr. Vinay Nandicoori, the director of CCMB, added, "Ancient DNA study is a powerful tool not only to understand our past and also help us in understanding historical perspective." He further said that CCMB plans to take up a largescale study of ancient DNA which would unravel several historical and pre-historical facts.

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