Roop Kanwar, an  18-year-old girl, was forced to become Sati after her husband of eight months died in Rajasthan’s Deorala village in 1987. This was long after the law banning the practice of Sati in which the wife of a married man who has died had to be immolated after his death. The procession of Roop Kanwar’s journey to the funeral pyre was attended by thousands of people including state politicians etc. Soon after, it became a matter of human rights violation and a case was registered under the Sati Prevention Act (1929) against the killing of Kanwar which has now reached the final stage.

The case that happened over 32 years ago is now being heard at Jaipur’s special court which was especially constituted to handle the trials in Sati cases and the next hearing in this case, will happen on September 11.

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Of the 45 people charged, 25 were acquitted and six accused have died since and six more have gone missing in November 2004.

On September 4, 1987 Kanwar reportedly decided to commit Sati after her husband Maal Singh, who was 24-years-old, died due to gastroenteritis. However, locals, while disagreeing with Sati practice now, hold Kanwar’s family with high regards and believe that she did it with her free will.

In total 45 people were charged with Kanwar’s murder including her in-laws and the politicians who attended the procession on September 22, 1988. An investigation later led to the arrest of several people from Deorala village who were bystanders during the event. Roop’s father-in-law Sumer Singh, and three of his relatives, Ranjit Singh, Ranajit Singh and Bhupendra Singh were arrested in the same year, on charges of murder and abetting a suicide. Earlier, police had also arrested Maal Singh’s younger brother, who was 15 at the time of the incident, for lighting the pyre, reported NY Times.

Of the 45 people charged, 25 were acquitted and six accused have died since and six more have gone missing since November 2004. In August this year, the Jaipur court had released standing warrants against two accused persons who have been absconding in the case. In January, four more accused persons were declared missing. The trial against the remaining eight accused persons is in progress in the Jaipur court.

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The case that happened over 32 years ago is now being heard at Jaipur’s special court which was especially constituted to handle the trials in Sati cases and the next hearing, in this case, will happen on September 11.

Kalu Singh, Sampat Singh, Sangram Singh and Rishi Kant were declared absconding on January 19, 2019, and Ratan Singh and Laxman Singh on August 9, 2019. Standing warrants have been issued against the six absconders,” said Narpat Singh, public prosecutor, special court for Sati Prevention Act, reported TOI.

The in-laws of Kanwar built a shrine for the “Sati Devi” Kanwar where visitors come from across the state every day to “pay their respect”. “I did not know her, but her family has told me that after seeing her husband’s body, she cried for a few minutes and then immediately started getting ready like a new bride. When the family asked her, she told them that she was going to commit Sati. My father-in-law tried to dissuade her but she was adamant,” said Santosh Shekhawat, who is married to Kanwar’s brother-in-law, reports TOI.

Picture credit- Lallantop

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