Revisiting the case of Roop Kanwar: A life ended too soon because of Sati

Revisiting the case of Roop Kanwar A life ended too soon because of Sati

Widowhood – the death of a partner – could be one of the most horrible and traumatising occurrences throughout anybody’s life.

Since the beginning of civilisation, multitudinous contemplations, convictions, and ceremonies grew up around this wonder. All significant strict religions of the world plainly spelt out explicit sets of accepted rules and morals with respect to their perspectives and code of conduct towards widows.

The ancient Hindu custom called ‘sati’ (or ‘suttee’), wherein a widow would consume herself to death on her husband’s funeral pyre, was at first a deliberate demonstration that was viewed as very valiant and courageous, however it later turned into a constrained and rightfully criminal practice. Sati is currently prohibited all over India and not, at this point rehearsed, it has a case history that can be revisited to study the extent of atrocities a woman can face in this country.

Myths and History

 Sati’ initially implied a lady who played out the demonstration of immolating herself after her significant other’s death. The word is taken from the Sanskrit word ‘asti’, which signifies ‘she is unadulterated or pure’.

In Hindu Mythology, Sati was the name of the first wife of Lord Shiva. Her father Daksha never regarded Shiva and frequently detested him. To challenge the scorn that her dad held for her better half, she consumed herself. While she was copying, she prayed to be reincarnated as Shiva’s consort in the next birth. This did occur, and her new form was called Parvati. Individuals used to legitimize the practise of sati based on this story, yet when Sati consumed herself in flames, she wasn’t a widow, and subsequently the practise is very inconsequential to this story.

As per old Hindu traditions, sati represented the conclusion to a marriage. It was a deliberate demonstration wherein, as an indication of being an obedient spouse, a lady followed her better half to the great beyond. It was, consequently, viewed as the best type of dedication of a spouse towards her dead husband.

With time, it turned into a constrained practice. Ladies who didn’t wish to die like this had to do as such in various manners. Customarily, a widow had no task to carry out in the public arena and was viewed as a weight. Thus, if a lady had no enduring youngsters who could uphold her, she was pressurized to acknowledge sati. The act of sati had been far reaching in India since the rule of the Gupta Empire. The act of sati was first recorded in 510 CCE in an ancient city in the province of Madhya Pradesh. After some time, this practise got boundless in northern India and particularly among the Rajputs, in the territory of Rajasthan. This exclusively was complete of Hindu custom for an extremely prolonged stretch of time. Ladies were taught to accept that their predetermination lay in submitting their lives to their spouses even in the afterlife.

Roop Kanwar – an ancient custom reignited in the modern era

 One such episode of sati that has accumulated huge consideration and prodded another chain of discussions and developments was the situation of Roop Kanwar—the last known instance of sati in India. On September 4, 1987 Roop Kanwar, an eighteen-year old teenager had taken the choice to hop into the funeral pyre of her husband, Maal Singh in a demonstration of self-immolation that came to build up an inheritance that would live on for quite a long time to come. The mass crowd who were observers to this demonstration, depicted it as a deliberate activity. This episode had shocked the territory of Rajasthan and prodded as a colossal basic human rights invasion – the right to live – countrywide.

What was a demonstration of will made a great deal of vulnerability and tumult. Inside just eight months of marriage, Roop Kanwar turned into a widow. Her choice to perform sati was maintained with high honor by her family members and local people the same. Be that as it may, her own parents just came to think about the demise of her husband and her choice to perform sati in the next day newspaper. Albeit such instances of sati have been recorded preceding this case, yet what had the effect following Roop Kanwar’s episode was the tremendous clamor of different ladies’ developments and the political air encompassing the occurrence, that transformed it into a fight among strict and social conventionality from one viewpoint, and the affirmation of ladies’ privileges on the other.

Suicide or Murder?

 News reports of the occurrence present clashing stories about how much Kanwar’s demise was deliberate. Some news reports guarantee Kanwar had to her demise by different participants present. Simultaneously, there are conflicting reports which guarantee that Roop Kanwar disclosed to her brother in law to light the fire when she was prepared. A few reports express that Roop was advised she should do Sati to carry honor to the family, and she fled and covered up in a stable, yet was found and beaten, medicated. Her father in law hauled her towards the pyre and observers affirmed that she was vigorously wounded and unconscious and foaming from the mouth. These observers said she was tossed on her husband’s dead body and hefty logs set on her with the end goal that she was unable to move and the burial service fire was lit.

Legal Action

 Altogether 45 individuals were accused of Kanwar’s murder including her in – laws and the legislators who went to the parade on September 22, 1988. An examination later prompted the capture of a few people from Deorala town who were onlookers during the occasion. Roop’s dad in-law Sumer Singh, and three of his family members, Ranjit Singh, Ranajit Singh and Bhupendra Singh were captured in the exact year, on charges of murder and abetting a suicide.

Prior, police had additionally captured Maal Singh’s younger brother, who was 15 at the hour of the episode, for lighting the fire. The first requests brought about 45 individuals being accused of her murder; these individuals were cleared. A much-broadcasted later examination prompted the capture of an enormous number of individuals from Deorala, said to have been available in the function, or members in it. In the long run, 11 individuals, including state legislators, were accused of glorification of sati. Of the 45 individuals charged, 25 were absolved and six blamed have died since and six more have disappeared since November 2004. In August this year, the Jaipur court had delivered standing warrants against two denounced people who have been missing for the situation. In January 2019, four more blamed people were proclaimed missing. The preliminary against the eight accused people is in progress in the Jaipur court.

Kalu Singh, Sampat Singh, Sangram Singh and Rishi Kant were proclaimed absconding on January 19, 2019, and Ratan Singh and Laxman Singh on August 9, 2019. Standing warrants have been given against the six absconders,” said Narpat Singh, public investigator, Special court for Sati Prevention Act.


 As the sati glorification case at long last approaches a decision over 33 years following Kanwar’s death on her husband’s funeral pyre at Deorala town in Sikar region, individuals of the village keep her alive as a goddess.

While the town itself has little to bring to the table to the youth with no significant growth or development, the individuals who were not even born at the hour of her demise, have heard stories and few even worship her at the makeshift holy place at the cremation ground where she was burnt.

Kanwar would have been 51 as of today, had this horrific incident not happened with her. She could have a long life, a life full of opportunities, a life which could have seen so much, yet it wasn’t meant to be that way. The question still haunts us, that why can’t we keep such fanaticism away and value life and the right to give it meaning a weight above the rest? Sati might be illegal, yet the different forms of harassment remain, people do suffer and it’s just a iota of cases that make it to the court or are reported. Hoping for a better future, maybe Kanwar also did.

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Written by Ojasvi Taak

His name is Ojasvi Taak, currently pursuing law in his final year of the B.A.LL.B (H) integrated course. He wants to write and is inclined towards journalism and studies law to gain an insight of what makes the world, the way it is.

He is a product of multilingual north indian cultures and believes in not restricting oneself in one colour. An avid reader of indian history and philosophy, always tries to make sense of what was and what is. He thinks he can create art in the form of sketches and painting. He is always open to expand his horizons and is also a lover of travel. He wants to use his voice to make people aware about their rights.

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