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45-year-old woman’s charred body found on husband’s funeral pyre; cops say it appears to be a case of suicide

IANS

Bhopal: A 45-year-old woman allegedly committed sati by burning herself on her husband’s funeral pyre in a Madhya Pradesh village, reaffirming that the barbaric practice still continues in pockets of deeply feudal India. The charred body of Janakrani of Tulsipar village, 120 km from Bhopal in Sagar district, was found on Monday

afternoon on her husband’s pyre, shortly after his funeral.

Her husband Prem Narayan Gond had died following prolonged illness. Police said Janakrani had left her house on the pretext of going to answer nature’s call.

“Janakrani’s family members and relatives launched a hunt when she didn’t return for some time and found her body on her husband’s pyre,” said an official.

“Prima facie, it appears to be a case of suicide and we are looking into the matter,” said Mohammad Shaid Abrar, superintendent of police, Sagar.

Women and Child Welfare Minister Kusum Mehadele said she has ordered a magisterial inquiry to get to the truth of the incident. While police has registered a case of suicide, locals in the area consider it an act of sati, the traditional Hindu practice of a

widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre that was prevalent among certain sects in ancient India.

It was deemed a great honour for women to die on the funeral pyres of their husbands and they attained the status of ‘sati mata’. There have been many instances of women being forcibly dragged to their husband’s funeral pyre and made to commit sati.

Sati was banned by the British in 1829 with Indian leader Raja Rammohan Roy among the first to eliminate the barbaric practice. Clearly, it still continues despite the rapid strides made by Indian women in many other fields.

In Madhya Pradesh, the village of Patna Tamoli in Sagar district has seen three alleged satis. A special court had earlier this year sentenced to life imprisonment a woman’s two sons and two brothers for abetting her death on her husband’s pyre in 2002. They prevented police personnel from rescuing the widow as she was being devoured by the flames.

It was the third incident of its kind in the village and a National Commission for Women inquiry committee had observed a structure at the cremation site. It was constructed in memory of a sati that took place about five decades ago.

But the worship of ‘sati matas’ is more organised elsewhere in the country. The Ranisatiji temple in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu is extolled as a testament to ‘feminine bravery’ and is frequented by many worshippers.

•  In Madhya Pradesh, the village of Patna Tamoli in Sagar district has seen three alleged satis. A special court had earlier this year sentenced to life imprisonment a woman’s two sons and two brothers for abetting her death on her husband’s pyre in 2002.