Chhattisgarh woman jumps onto husband’s pyre, commits sati (Lead)

October 12th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Oct 12 (IANS) A 71-year-old woman in a Chhattisgarh village jumped onto her husband’s funeral pyre and committed suicide, creating a sensation as hundreds thronged to view the place of the alleged ’sati’, a banned Hindu custom, police said Sunday. The incident took place late Saturday evening in Chechar village, in the interiors of Raipur district, some 125 km from here.

Police were informed about the alleged ’sati’ incident late Saturday night and filed a First Information Report (FIR) early Sunday after visiting the spot.

“Lalmati Verma, 71, who belonged to Chechar village, jumped onto her husband’s funeral pyre after all the villagers had left the site, the bank of two rivers - Mahanadi and Shivnath,” B.R. Mandawi, in charge of the Kasdol police station, told IANS by telephone.

Lalmati had come for the funeral of her husband Shivnandan Verma, 80, dressed in a new sari, Mandawi said. Her husband had died of natural causes.

“The villagers had decided to leave when the body was almost burnt, when she suddenly jumped onto the pyre. She was reduced to ashes soon,” Mandawi added.

No arrest has been made so far.

Police interrogated dozens of villagers throughout Sunday to ascertain whether the woman, who belonged to the Kurmi caste that is categorized under the Other Backward Classes (OBC), was incited either by her relatives or villagers to commit sati, the age-old custom banned in 1829 by the British colonial rulers.

Police said on the basis of investigation that the woman had been holding a coconut and a Ramayana book in her hands and made a couple of rounds of the pyre before jumping in it.

Mandawi added: “The woman had three sons but was living separately with her husband in a corner of an old house. Her sons had no idea of their mother’s plan, according to preliminary police investigations.”

The incident has created a sensation in the farmer-dominated village, which has a population of about 1,000. A majority of the people thronged the site, some 20 km from the village, where Lalmati chose to end her life.

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