//Sati tourism! BJP govt stirs a storm

Sati tourism! BJP govt stirs a storm

Jaipur: The BJP government in Rajasthan is turning red in the face over a book it published on Sati temples. The book, that allegedly glorifies the Sati, has now become a cause of embarrassment for the state government as a special Satoi court has issued warrants against state Tourism Minister Usha Poonia for glorifying the malpractice.

The court indicts Poonia for releasing the book to promote religious tourism in the state.
The book titled ‘Rajasthan ke lok Devi Devta’  released in 2005 says there is no place in the state where the ancient ritual of Sati has not taken place.

The court says the accused will be tried for violating the Sati Prevention Act of 1987.
"To glorify it or propagate it is a punishable offence under Section 5 of Sati Prevention Act in which there is a provision of five years of imprisonment. In this book Usha Punia, Mahendra Bhanawat, Parshv Kalla have openly glorified Sati," Ajay Kumar Jain, lawyer, women’s groups

The book published by the state government has forewords by Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia. However, the author says he only wrote he was asked to write.

"The department asked me to write a manuscript on Rajasthan’s customs and Gods and goddesses. So I just di what they asked me to," Mahendra Bhanawat, author, Rajasthan Ke Lok Devi Devta, said. Once the book was released, women’s groups were up in arms. "In 2005, there were three major glorification incidents and one attempt to Sati. In these cases, no action was taken by the police. This is a pro-Sati government," Kavita Shrivastava, representative, women’s groups, says.

After the women’s groups filed a petition, the court asked the police to register a case against the tourism minister and three others involved. The court has summoned the three on March 3.

Swati Vashishta, CNN-IBN,  05.02.06