Thursday, September 21, 2006

Indian police have arrested four sons of an old woman they believe committed suicide by jumping onto her husband's funeral pyre

BBC News:

The Hindu practice, know as sati, is believed to have originated 700 years ago and is banned.

The four have been arrested in the state of Madhya Pradesh on murder charges. They are accused of aiding or abetting her suicide.

Police say another sati incident took place in the state earlier this month.

"We have information that Karua Devi committed sati in full public view," Inspector General of Police Swarn Singh told the Reuters news agency.

"Senior police officers have rushed to the village to collect more information."

The BBC's Faisal Mohammad Ali in the state capital, Bhopal, says that locals have told police that the woman - believed to be in her mid 90s - was taken to the pyre of her husband in full bridal gear, and it was lit by one of her sons.

It is not known whether they deny the murder charges.

Our correspondent says that there have been reports that Karua Devi expressed her desire to self-immolate after her husband's death, and was actively encouraged to do so by her sons and some villagers.

She is believed to have belonged to the upper-caste Hindu Rajput community, where acts of sati are reported to have continued even though the practice was banned in India during British rule.

People from several nearby areas flocked to the village where the incident happened, placing money and burning incense near the remains of the pyre.

Indian woman commits sati, jumps on husband's pyre


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