|Died||4 September 1987
Deorala, Sikar district, Rajasthan, India
Cause of death
Roop Kanwar (c. 1969 – 4 September 1987) was a Rajput woman who was immolated on 4 September 1987 at Deorala village of Sikar district in Rajasthan, India. At the time of her death, she was 18 years old and had been married for eight months to Maal Singh Shekhawat, who had died a day earlier at age 24, and had no children.
Several thousand people attended the sati event. After her death, Roop Kanwar was hailed as a sati mata – a "sati" mother, or pure mother. The event quickly produced a public outcry in urban centres, pitting a modern Indian ideology against a traditional one. The incident led first to state level laws to prevent such incidents, then the central government's Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act.
News reports of the incident present conflicting stories about the degree to which Kanwar's death was voluntary. Some news reports claim Kanwar was forced to her death by other attendees present. At the same time, there are contradictory reports which claim that Roop Kanwar told her brother-in-law to light the pyre when she was ready, supporting the possibility that she was at least resigned to undergoing sati, if not willing.
The original inquiries resulted in 45 people being charged with her murder; these were acquitted. A much-publicized later investigation led to the arrest of a large number of people from Deorala, said to have been present in the ceremony, or participants in it. Eventually, 11 people, including state politicians, were charged with glorification of sati. On 31 January 2004 a special court in Jaipur acquitted all of the 11 accused in the case.