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Revolt of 1857: Remains of 282 soldiers killed during freedom struggle found in Punjab

The skeletons dating back to 165 years were excavated from Punjab in 2014, but it is only recently that they were identified as belonging to Indian soldiers.

May 11, 2022 / 05:36 PM IST
The skeletons were excavated from a well found underneath a religious structure in Ajnala near Amritsar, Punjab, said researcher Dr JS Sehrawat. (Image credit: ANI)

The skeletons were excavated from a well found underneath a religious structure in Ajnala near Amritsar, Punjab, said researcher Dr JS Sehrawat. (Image credit: ANI)


The remains of 282 Indian soldiers who were killed during the country's First War of Independence in 1857 were found during excavation near Amritsar.

The soldiers were said to have revolted against the use of pork and beef-greased cartridges, news agency ANI reported.

"These skeletons belong to 282 Indian soldiers killed during India's first freedom struggle against the British in 1857. These were excavated from a well found underneath a religious structure in Ajnala near Amritsar in Punjab," said Dr JS Sehrawat, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Punjab University.

"These soldiers were revolting against the use of pork and beef greased cartridges, a study has suggested. Coins, medals, DNA study, elemental analysis, anthropological, radio-carbon dating, all point towards the same."

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The skeletons dating back to 165 years  were excavated from Punjab in 2014, but it is only recently that they were identified as belonging to Indian soldiers from the Gangetic plain region who were killed by the British army during the revolt of the 1857 Indian freedom struggle.

The discovery was published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics,  which shows that the skeletons were of soldiers belonging to people from the eastern part of Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Professor Gyaneshwer Chaubey, from the Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Uttar Pradesh, played a crucial role in the DNA study.  According to him, the findings add a significant chapter in the history of the "unsung heroes of India's first freedom struggle."

"This study confirms two things: First the Indian soldiers were killed during the 1857 revolt and second that they are from Ganga plain, and not from Punjab," Chaubey told PTI.

According to the researchers, the study helps to look at history from a more evidence-based way.

During the revolt of 1857 -- also known as the the First War of Independence by some historians -- some Indian sepoys recruited in the British Indian army had revolted against the use of pork and beef greased cartridges citing religious beliefs.



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