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Hyderabad: The shroud of mystery surrounding a mass grave of nearly 160-year-old human skeletons dug up at Ajnala in Punjab appears to be lifting, eight years after the discovery left scientists and anthropologists divided about their identity. The latest study reveals that the skeletons were of 246 soldiers from the Gangetic plains executed by the British for killing an officer during the 1857 uprising. These soldiers were possibly attached to the 26th Native Bengal Infantry Battalion posted at Mian-Meer, now in Pakistan, according to CSIR’s Centre For Cellular and Molecular Biology. The new thesis contradicts what some historians have claimed — that the skeletons excavated from a well in Ajnala town in 2014 could be of people killed in the Partition riots.
While the identity and geographic origins of these skeletons were debated for want of scientific evidence, the study published on Thursday in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Genetics” cites 50 samples sent 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 research methods support the theory that the skeletons found in the well were not of people living in Punjab or Pakistan. Rather, DNA sequences matched those from UP, Bihar and Bengal,” said Dr K Thangaraj, chief scientist at CCMB.
This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.
Tahsil of Amritsar District, Punjab, lying between 31 degree 37' and 32 degree 3' N. and 74 degree 30' and 74 degree 59' E., with an area of 417 square miles. It is bounded on the north-west by the Ravi, dividing it from Sialkot District.
The Sakki, a sluggish perennial stream, which falls into the Ravi near the southern boundary, separates the alluvial low- lands from the upland plateau which occupies two-thirds of the area. The southern portion of the plateau is irrigated by the Bari Doab Canal and the northern by wells. Cultivation is less extensive than in the other tahsils, owing to the inferiority of the soil. The population in 1901 was 209,869, compared with 224,836 in 1891. It contains 331 villages, of which Ajnala is the head-quarters.
The land revenue and cesses amounted in 1903-4 to Rs. 3,61,000.