REPORT OF THE INQUIRY COMMITTEE ON
AT PATNA TAMOLI VILLAGE OF
PANNA DISTRICT IN MADHYA
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 :
- The administration has not complied with the mandate of the
law and has failed in pre-empting and preventing the woman from
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Village Sarpanch, totally distanced herself from the
responsibility of pre-empting and preventing the gruesome
- 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.
- Neither the Panchayat nor the Administration can take refuge
in peoples' ignorance or archaic beliefs.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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