Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SATI resurfaces in MP

Outlawed Hindu practice of `Sati' resurfaces in Madhya Pradesh village

Tulsipar (Madhya Pradesh), Aug.22: Madhya Pradesh Police on Tuesday confirmed that a village woman had committed `Sati', the ancient but outlawed Hindu practice of wife burning to death on her husband's funeral pyre. Police said that the incident took place in the village of Tulsipar in the state's Sagar District. They said that Janakrani, a woman in her 40s decided to jump onto her husband Prem Narayan's funeral pyre as it was lit. Villagers, they said, were caught off-guard by the step and added that no one had forced her to commit the act. Villagers said that Prem Narayan had died on Monday morning. His body was set alight by his family and villagers, after which people left for home. Thereafter, Janakrani left her house after returning from the cremation ground, telling people she had to attend to some work. When the villagers went looking for her, they discovered part of her flesh and bones on the pyre. The last incident of Sati, involving a 65-year-old woman, took place in Madhya Pradesh in 2002. The most high-profile sati incident was in Rajasthan in 1987, when 18-year-old Roop Kanwar was burned to death. The case sparked national and international outrage. Police charged Roop Kanwar's father-in-law and brother-in-law with forcing her to sit on the pyre with her husband's body, but the two men were acquitted by a court in October 1996. Sati, or the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, is believed to have originated 700 years ago among the ruling class or Rajputs. It was then called Jauhar and involved royal Rajput women going below their palaces and burning themselves after receiving news of the defeat of their men in battle. This was done to avoid being taken captive by the victors. The custom was outlawed by British colonial rulers in 1829, following demands by Indian reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy. Although the practice of sati has been virtually non-existent elsewhere in India after the British banned it, about forty cases have taken place since India’s independence in 1947. Twenty-eight of these cases have occurred in Rajasthan, mainly around the Sikar district.

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