Thu, 24 Jan 2013 08:45:00 GMT | By IANS

New evidence of indentured Indians' mass graves in Suriname

Indian indentured workers were taken to Suriname as agricultural labour to work on the sugarcane plantations during colonial times

New evidence of indentured Indians' mass graves in Suriname (© Reuters)

Pic for representation purpose only

New Delhi: As the Suriname government granted permission in early January to researchers to begin operations to discover the forgotten mass graves of Indian indentured workers killed in police firing in 1902 in the tiny South American nation, where nearly 40 percent of its people are of Indian extraction, new evidence has emerged that could give significant pointers to the location of the graves.

Late last year, Benjamin Mitrasingh, an archaeologist in Suriname, had proposed to use modern technology and aerial surveys to locate the graves of Indian indentured workers killed 110 years ago in Marienburg. The 1902 massacre took place at Marienburg factory and sugarcane plantation when angry agricultural workers protesting against low wages were fired upon by Dutch colonial forces. About 24 workers were killed and their bodies dumped in unmarked mass graves.

As Mitrasingh waited for government permission to commence his investigation, researchers in the Netherlands - Suriname, a country of a little over 500,00 people, gained independence from the Dutch in 1975 - working in the archives located a map that could give indications to the site where the mass graves were located. Sandew Hira and historian Radhinder Bhagwanbali have done considerable research on the subject of Indian immigrants in Suriname.

Bhagwanbhali had been researching on the subject of resistance on the plantations against the indentured labour system. "During his research, Bhagwanbali went into the archives and studied the reports of the Dutch military regarding the uprisings by the workers. He found this map in the military files," Hira said in an email interview with IANS. A copy of the map was sent to Mitrasingh, he added.

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