In their quest for electoral success, political parties have chosen silence on the issue of sati, highlighted once again when a 70-year-old woman burnt herself on the pyre of her husband in Chechar village, 140km from here.
While the villagers “celebrated sati”, political parties have stayed away from talking about the banned practice as well as Chechar almost two weeks after the incident.
On October 11, Lalmati had jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband who had died after prolonged illness.
Yogesh Chandrakar, BJP candidate from Kasdol constituency in which Chechar village falls, refused to talk about the incident when contacted by HT. “Please don’t ask me,” said his Congress rival Rajkamal Singhania.
Chhattisgarh goes to the polls on November 14 and 20. The polling will be held in Kasdol on November 20.
“Both the BJP and the Congress contenders cannot afford to hurt the misguided religious sentiments of the voters in rural areas,” said Subash Mohapatra, director of Fact Finding Documentation and Advocacy, a local NGO.
Instead of creating awareness against such practices, politicians were endorsing these acts on the sly in their need for mass support, he alleged.
Chechar sarpanch Suresh Kumar Pradhan told HT none of the candidates or their party representatives had visited the village. "The villagers are not aware of the sati prevention Act,” he said.
Though many hold the government responsible for failing to check the banned custom, being glorified at 12 “sati temples” across the state, president of Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti, working to create awareness against blind faith, Dr Dinesh Mishra said, “More than the legal recourse what is needed on priority is awareness at grassroot levels, which our elected representatives have repeatedly failed to do.”
“It is sad that sati is a no issue for contestants… it is tragic for rural society, where no serious attempt is being made to wipe out the banned social custom,” said Zulaikha Jabi, president of Shambhavi which is fighting for the cause of women.
Even the state women’s commission has failed to take note of the incident.