People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 27, 2009

BJP Seeks To Revive Sati Custom


THE BJP government of Madhya Pradesh, led by Shivraj Singh Chauhan, is again seeking to do something undesirable. Recently, after a woman died in Chanderi in Ashok Nagar district, an attempt was made to portray it as an example of sati, to glorify it and thus to revive the barbaric medieval custom that has been banned since about 180 years. 

A notable fact is that while anti-social elements and vested interests are doing their level best to eulogise this heinous custom, the administration has so far maintained studied silence on this issue.

According to the information gathered by the Hindi fortnightly Lok Jatan, recently a woman called Shagun Bai allegedly committed suicide by jumping into the sacred fire pit of the Sankat Mochan Temple in Chanderi, after her husband Keshav Lal, the pujari of the same temple, died. In such a situation, it was obligatory for the district police and administration to find out and be sure about a few minimal things. For example, what were the circumstances in which Shagun Bai jumped into the fire pit? Whether somebody instigated her to do so, or whether somebody pushed her into the fire pit? If the lady really committed suicide because she was swayed by the feelings of grief, why did no one present in the temple at that time prevent her from doing so or come forward to save her? Are there any vested interests working behind this grievous event?  

The police and administration did nothing of the sort. On the contrary, Shagun Bai�s body was taken out of the fire pit and burnt on the same pyre along with her husband�s body. Soon the people from the nearby areas began to throng the temple, raise slogans hailing the �Mother Sati� and worship her. On its part, the district administration is only assisting the anti-social elements who are eulogising this anti-human act. The superintendent of police, R K Arusia, admitted the fact of a woman�s death but shirked his responsibility by saying that he did not know anything about the causes of the death or about the subsequent events.

According to the abovementioned fortnightly, it is the anti-women patriarchal thinking of the ruling BJP that is encouraging the administration to ignore the whole episode and not take any action against the criminal elements involved in this crime. This non-action further emboldened these criminal elements who tried to exploit the situation by organising a big gathering on the terahavi (13th day ceremonies) of the dead couple and announcing there the intention to construct a big chabutara (raised platform) in the couple�s memory and a temple on that platform.

Through a letter written to the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, CPI(M) state secretary Badal Saroj has demanded deployment of police guards on the concerned spot in order to foil the moves being made to glorify the death of a woman and make the sati worship a permanent affair. He has also demanded a probe into the causes of the woman�s death and punishment to the guilty persons in this regard. He has also requested the National Commission for Women to intervene in this affair.

The Madhya Pradesh state unit of the All India Democratic Women�s Association too has  condemned the moves to revive a savage custom and glorify it.