As curiosity deepens around the skeletal remains of the martyrs of the First War of Independence in 1857, which were dug out from Kallianwala Khoo near Amritsar, a team of two professors from Panjab University’s Department of Anthropology are working on preparing biological profiles of the martyrs.
The skeletal remains of Indian soldiers killed by British troops for participating in the First War of Independence, which were later thrown in a well, were recently dug out by a team supervised by local historian Surender Kocchar. The Punjab government then set up a research committee.
A team of two PU professors, comprising Professor R K Pathak and Assistant Professor J S Sherawat, have been appointed to conduct DNA profiling of the remains. The team will also identify the age, sex, physique and ethnic background of these martyrs.
“Since, we do not have DNA data, we will not be able to establish their identity. But the Punjab government is in talks with the British government to provide records of the soldiers who died. The next step will depend on the type of records we get,” said Professor Pathak. The team visited the site recently and submitted a preliminary report to the Punjab government.
“Initial investigation has shown that skeletal remains of children, women, animals and British soldiers could also be present. Apart from 90 skulls, 170 jaws and 8,000 intact teeth, we found ancient coins and ornaments too,” said Assistant Professor Sherawat. He added that the remains were damaged due to improper excavation.
The mortal remains are in the possession of the Punjab Director of Cultural Affairs. It was only after the excavation was completed that the Punjab government, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) came into action, said Kochhar. “I decided to carry out the excavation after several written communications to the Punjab government did not yield any results,” said Kocchar, who led the excavation on February 28.
A proposal, meanwhile, will soon be submitted to the PU V-C to provide space and facilities to the research team. “We will draft a proposal soon,” said Professor Pathak, while adding that the V-C has expressed willingness towards the same.