A 95-year-old woman was killed after her four sons pushed her on to her husband’s funeral pyre in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday evening.
Police said the brothers tried to pass it off as sati, saying their mother, Karuya, had voluntarily jumped on to the pyre. But their arguments were too weak — their mother was too old and frail to have climbed on to the pyre herself. Even if she did, none of the 20 people at the funeral stopped her and now, they will be arrested for abetting the murder, Chhatarpur superintendent of police Chanchal Kumar said.
Sub Divisional Magistrate Omkar Nath Pandey said the brothers got the villagers to support them with promises of a sati temple in their village. On Thursday, the police arrested the four brothers —Dhrivpal, Kripal, Kuber and Baldu — on charges of murder.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had his excuses ready. He said the incident could not be prevented as the village was too remote for anyone to act. Now, he said, the administration can only ensure that the act is not glorified as sati.
The Congress has contested the chief minister's claim. "People from nearby villages had started arriving at Panihari village around noon after rumours of the planned sati spread. But the administration says it had no inkling till the next six hours. That is strange," alleged state Congress general secretary and spokesperson Manak Agrawal.
Wednesday's incident comes less than a month after a 45-year-old woman in Sagar district allegedly jumped on to her husband's funeral pyre.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has taken note of the increasing incidents of sati in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. It has sent advisories to state governments to alert them of the possibility of a spurt in sati cases.