REPORT OF THE INQUIRY COMMITTEE ON
SATI INCIDENT
AT PATNA TAMOLI VILLAGE OF
PANNA DISTRICT IN MADHYA PRADESH



 

NCW OBSERVATIONS

The Commission believe that Kuttubai had committed Sati. The depositions made before the visiting NCW team by the villagers, the relatives of the deceased. the village level functionaries. the Panchayat Sarpanch, the Zila Panchayat Vice-President, the daughters-in-law. the grand children. the police sub-inspector, the chowkidar, the SDPO, the Collector and government officers reinforce the belief, though the time of occurrence varied. When the team met the sons of Kuttu hai (who have been arrested and are in Jail, along with 15 others), they clearly told the visiting NCW team that their mother had told them a couple of days before the death. of their father that she would commit Sati on her husband's pyre. Allegedly, they pleaded with her not to commit self immolation but she flatly refused to comply with their request.

The question is not when and where and at what time she was dressed in bridal finery, or whether she voluntarily sat on the pyre and refused to. come out or not; the crucial issue is how is it that when villagers, both from within and neighbouring areas congregated to pay obeisance to Sati mata, the administration was still preparing to visit the spot? The single policeman with a revolver and a gun could not prevent the Sati occurrence. What is the point in trying to cover up a systemic failure to rush on time and take the alibi of 9-15 a.m. as the time of the complaint received?

Analysing the situation on the evidence recorded from one and all, NCW 's findings are :

  1. The administration has not complied with the mandate of the law and has failed in pre-empting and preventing the woman from committing Sari.

  2. The administration reached the spot when the woman had been fully consigned to the flames They could not even disperse the crowd eulogizing 'Sati mata' until late in the afternoon.

  3. The administration did not take cognizance of the fact that abetting and glorification of Sati was in full swing for three hours before their arrival.

  4. The. police/administration have arrested 17 illiterate, poor and ignorant persons under sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder and attempt to murder and not under the Commission of Sati (prevention) Act, 1987.

  5. The local political functionaries who were present in the village, have a stronghold over the villagers [this was evident from the fact that all the villagers had congregated in the village to meet the Member of Parliament, the leader of the village and the Zila Upadhyaksh] and yet failed to prevent the incident This populous village of 5000 and above is said to be affluent due to pan business.

  6. The Village Sarpanch, totally distanced herself from the responsibility of pre-empting and preventing the gruesome incident.

  7. The Zila Upadhyaksh also, who has the loyalty of the whole village has failed in his duty as an elected functionary. Having heard from no one else other than from the son of the deceased, who had sought his help for saving his mother, the Upadhyaksh did not think that it was his duty to stop Sati on time, instead of waiting for the police to arrive. He played an indecisive role, which does not behove of local leader. His failure to counter the incident is beyond doubt.

  8. Neither the Panchayat nor the Administration can take refuge in peoples' ignorance or archaic beliefs.

  9. The delay tactics on the part of the police and administration to avoid the wrath of the public/villagers is to be condemned and punished with all seriousness

  10. The District Collector should have acted quickly to prevent the occurrence, instead, his defensive attitude cannot be condoned. He must be charged for dereliction of duty.

  11. The elected Representatives and the Administration both at the local and the District levels have to take a stand. Their action has to be proactive and not merely of post-mortem in nature.

  12. No attempt seems to have been made in the village and around to improve the self-esteem of women, specially widows, particularly where Satipratha is still being nurtured as per the depositions by the administration and the local people .One can intervene in many ways to make their lives better and prevent them from burning on the funeral pyre of their husbands.

  13. Neither the police nor the administration, i.e. the District Collector, cared to collect the negatives of the photographs of Sati- burning/murder published in Navbharat at Satna. The photograph clearly shows the abettors of the crime, who were present on the spot, paying tributes to Satimata. (NCW requested the Police (SDPO) and the Collector to produce the photographer to meet the NCW Team. This was not complied with.

 

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