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Sati Raises its Ugly Head in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh court has sentenced the sons and brothers of a 62-year old woman with life imprisonment, after they forced her to burn// with her dead husband on his funeral pyre on August 2002.

The special court in Sagar Wednesday sentenced Kuttu Bai's two sons and two brothers for abetting her death on Aug 6, 2002, in Patna Tamoli village of Panna district. Thirteen others were acquitted.

Judge A.K. Mishra convicted Kuttu Bai's two sons, Ashok Kumar (45) and Raj Kumar (35), and her brothers, Jai Narayan (34) and Deep Narayan (33) -- they prevented police personnel from rescuing the widow as she was being devoured by the flames.

According to the prosecution in the case, the victim's relatives assaulted the police personnel and prevented them from removing the woman from the pyre.

"The family of the deceased were aware of her intention of committing sati as she had already told them a few days before when she realised that her husband would soon die. The superstitious villagers were mute spectators and did not try to stop her," stated the National Commission for Women (NCW), which took suo motu cognisance of the episode and constituted a probe.

Instead of preventing Kuttu Bai's death, villagers gathered at the cremation ground with coconut, camphor and other offerings.

"The local public representatives also did not reach the site of incidence except for informing the concerned police station. Hence, they are accountable for such atrocities taking place in their area. Though the police reached the spot, but their numbers were not adequate," the NCW added in its report.

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

A police post was set up at Kuttu Bai's sati site to prevent its glorification.

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