//Sati order: Rajasthan minister in dock

Sati order: Rajasthan minister in dock

February 3, 2006 (Jaipur): A special Sati sessions court in Jaipur has issued orders to Minister of State Usha Punia for allegedly glorifying Sati in a book titled Rajasthan ke lok devi devta.The court also took cognizance of the involvement of author Mahendra Bhanawat and the publisher and distributor of the book. Women’s organisations were forced to file a complaint in court after unsuccessfully trying to lodge an FIR in the matter. "The order means that a trial can now begin. They will have to appear in court and answer the charges against them and if found guilty face a sentence," said Ajay Kumar Jain, Lawyer for women’s organisations.

Centre of controversy — The book, which was distributed at a press conference on May 30 last year, was meant to be a guide on folk religion. It also described and praised four Sati temples in the state, including the Rani Sati temple in Jhunjhunu. The temple has been at the centre of controversy and women activists say the veneration of Sati still thrives in many temples in Rajasthan. "If you keep reinforcing Sati through books, literature, music and bhajans in temples, you are making Sati a living thing in society," said Kavita Srivastava, Petitioner. The government, which immediately withdrew the book calling it a printing error, has so far refused to comment on the issue. But in a state like Rajasthan, with one of the worst records on women’s rights, very little has been done to stop the propagation of the Sati ideology