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Accused in Deorala `sati' case acquitted

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, JAN. 31. All the 11 persons accused of glorifying sati in the infamous incident in Deorala, Rajasthan in 1987, were acquitted by a special court here today on the ground that the prosecution could not establish the charges. The accused included Rajendra Singh Rathore, former Minister and vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party's State unit; Paratpsingh Kachariawas, former BJP Yuva Morcha president; Narendra Singh, former Rajput Mahasabha president; and Anand Sharma, a writer.

The accused were present in the special court, functioning from the premises of the District Courts here when the Additional Sessions Judge, Shiv Singh Chauhan, pronounced his judgment. There were no visible signs of jubilation outside the court though the acquitted persons looked relieved.

"It is justice after 17 years. The charges against us were politically motivated. It was a conspiracy by the then Congress Government in the State," said Mr. Rathore.

The cases relating to the 1987 incident are also pending in the Rajasthan High Court after the district court absolved the accused in those cases too. "It is disheartening. We will sit together and think about the future plan," said Ladkumari Jain, former president of the Rajasthan University Women's Association, after hearing about the judgment. RUWA was one of the organisations in the forefront of the agitations triggered by the Deorala incident.

Members of most women's groups are presently in Delhi to attend a meeting convened by the National Commission for Women, to discuss legislation on dowry.

A future plan of action would be decided on their return, Dr. Jain pointed out.

In the present case, the prosecution seemingly failed to establish the link between the incident of sati in Deorala village under Ajitgarh police station of Sikar and the violation of legislation enacted soon after by the State Assembly, by the accused. Many of the three dozen witnesses examined in the case had turned hostile.

Charges had been filed against 16 persons in four different cases under the Prevention of Sati Act, 1987, but five of them — Hat Singh, Bhagirath Singh, Risal Singh, Inder Kumar Tiwari and Laxmi Narain — died during the trial of the cases.

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