95-year-old commits sati, sons held

Bhopal, September 21 :

The four sons of a 95-year-old widow who burnt to death on her husband’s funeral pyre were arrested on a charge of murder, officials in central India said today.

Police arrested the four after the woman’s charred body was found on her late husband’s pyre yesterday in Baniyani village in Madhya Pradesh state.

Villagers told police that Kuria Devi was following an ancient Hindu ritual known as sati, which was banned by the British rulers nearly two centuries ago.

“Police have arrested Kuriya Devi’s four sons on the charge of murder,” said District Collector Ajatashatru Shriva. The sons said “their mother had expressed her wish to commit sati but nobody took it seriously. However, nobody objected when she sat on her husband’s pyre,” IGP Swarn Singh told AFP.

Other cases were being filed against people who allegedly egged Devi on to kill herself, Singh said.

Hindu religious texts say sati is supposed to be voluntary, but there is often an element of coercion. According to villagers, Devi had declared her intention to commit sati even before the death of her husband.