NEW DELHI — Roop Kanwar, a young widow said to have committed sati (ritual suicide) on her husband's funeral pyre in September, was actually burned alive by her relatives, a court was told.
The Press Trust of India news agency on Sunday reported on a preliminary hearing in Jaipur against 32 members of Kanwar's family and others who witnessed her death in Deorala village in northwest India.
The sati was hailed by traditional Hindus as a holy and voluntary act. However, trial papers allege that the 18-year-old widow was forced onto the pyre by four men armed with swords and covered to shoulder height with firewood so that she could not escape.
At one point, the fire went out and Kanwar tried to free herself, they said, but she was forced back. Twice she tried to speak, but her cries were allegedly drowned out by shouts from about 400 villagers who had gathered to watch.