Press "Enter" to skip to content

Skeletal remains help identity Sepoy Mutiny’s little-known soldier

Patna: In a study of the immense significance for the first freedom struggle of India biological scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna and the National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, have closely confirmed the identity of a little-known martyr named Alum Bheg from his skeletal remains.

Alum Bheg was a brave rebellion soldier of Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, which is also known as India’s First War of Independence against British Imperialism. Alum Bheg was almost unknown and missed from the historical records until it was recently brought to notice by the incidental finding of a human skull from the famous Lord Clyde pub of London which was named after Collin Thomson aka Lord Clyde, a military commander who was instrumental in crushing the mutiny.

The study has been published in Journal of Morphological Sciences, a peer reviewed journal from the Association of Pan-American/Brazilian Anatomists and is available in open access.

“There could have been no identification of this skull lest a folded small note was not found tugged inside the bony orbit of the skull. It was documented in the note that Alum Bheg was blown up by the mouth of a canon as the punishment for his acts of rebellion against the British Imperial Rule,” said Dr Ashutosh Kumar, a faculty in Anatomy at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, and lead author in the study.

“Skeletal remains are often used for establishing the identity of the individual in medico-legal cases of dispute and also in archeological investigations.”

The note also suggested the age and height of the martyr at the time of execution as 32 years and 5 feet 7½ inches respectively, which are now confirmed approximately by these Indian biological scientists by studying the age related morphological changes and performing anthropometric measurements on digital images of the skull bones. The skull is presently in custody of historian Dr Kim A Wagner, a senior lecturer in British Imperial History at Queen Mary University of London who provided the necessary details and digital images to the investigators of this study for the scientific validation of the identity of the skull.

“Skeletal remains are often used for establishing the identity of the individual in medico-legal cases of dispute and also in archeological investigations. Its use for validating the identity of a 160-year-old skull which may belong to a martyr is unique and has immense significance for the social conscience of a nation. It may revive a martyr from the oblivion of history and bestow him due accord what he deserved for his sacrifice,” said Dr Kumar.

“Advance biological tests for the identification as DNA finger printing could have given a better validation but couldn’t be used for this study because it would have required matching of the DNA retrieved from the skull bones with that of a biological relative, and we realized that almost nothing is known about the kinship of the martyr, and there could have been significant population migration since 1857 in the vaguely noted place of origin in Uttar Pradesh (then United Province) of India,” stated Dr Sanjib Kumar Ghosh, a senior faculty in Department of Anatomy, AIIMS, Patna.

“It is difficult to establish the identity of an individual based on just the anthropometric and morphological details available from the skeletal remains. Our work with the convergence of the result data from research over multiple parameters and their correlation with the available historical details strongly suggest that the skull belonged to the martyr Alum Bheg,” said Vikas Pareek, a co-author in this study and a senior research scholar at the National Brain Research Centre, Manesar.

Source: Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna

Establishing the Identity from the Skeletal Remains of Alum Bheg, a Martyr from the 1857 Indian Freedom Struggle
(Kumar et al., Journal of Morphological Sciences, 2019)

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *