Nearly 100 human skulls and other skeletal remains were discovered in a dried-up pond in northern India, officials said Monday. The remains likely belonged to people whom police could not identify and were dumped there to avoid having to organize cremations.

The grisly discovery was made by children playing in a pond that had dried up over the summer in Aligarh, a city 75 miles southeast of New Delhi. After the children found several skulls, police were called in and subsequently dug up 98 skulls and other bones, said Aligarh police chief Aseem Arun.

Local government official Shailendra Singh said the remains were most likely those of unidentified people killed in road accidents and other mishaps. He conceded that police occasionally fail to properly dispose of bodies.

To prevent this, private contractors have been used since 2007 to properly cremate unclaimed bodies, he said.

The skeletons appear to be have been there for about a decade, Arun said.

Human rights groups accused police of being callous.

"Even dead bodies deserve honorable cremation after post mortem," said Ashish Shukla, a senior official of the Uttar Pradesh State Human Rights Organization. "It seems the dead bodies were just thrown in the pond, denying them the respect they deserve."