An 83-year-old woman passed away in Rajasthan on Saturday, 50 days after opting for santhara, family members said, the first such death after a legal battle over the Jain community’s right to follow the ritual of voluntarily starving to death.
Badni Devi Daga of Gangashahar in Bikaner, more than 300 km from capital Jaipur, died at around 8am, her nephew BD Daga said over phone.
The ritual of santhara had come under the spotlight after the Rajasthan high court on August 10 directed police to register criminal cases under the attempt to suicide and abetment to suicide sections of the Indian Penal Code against those practising or promoting the tradition.
However, the Supreme Court stayed the high court order earlier this week, bringing relief to the community amid a raging debate on religious freedom.
Though Devi had started her fast many weeks before, family members announced her santhara decision only after the apex court’s order.
It’s the second santhara in the family, the first was 30 years ago by a woman related to her late husband.