Odisha: 83-year-old woman 'on fast for over 50 days' to attain moksha

Cuttack, Oct 27: An 83-year-old Jain woman is on a 'fast unto death' for over 50 days in Cuttack to attain moksha, family sources said.

The woman Vhicki Devi Sethi, wife of Bhawarlal Sethi of Friends Colony here, is observing 'Santhara' since September 2 and till date she has shunned food as part of the Jain ritual to abandon her body in order to attain 'Moksha'.

The sources said that she settled for the ritual having no more wish to fulfil and secured permission from religious leaders of her sect and her family.

City-based social organisation 'Struggle for Justice' moved the Orissa High Court through a PIL last week urging the HC to declare the observance of the ritual in public as illegal and direct Odisha police to initiate criminal proceedings.

The organisation Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma said the practice was "unconstitutional" and "illegal" as it violates Article 21 of the Constitution and is punishable under Sections 306 and 309 of IPC. The High Court has not yet taken cognisance of petition.

Sharma said they have approached the local police station and subsequently the city deputy commissioner of police (DCP) to halt the fast but there was no response.

When asked, DCP Sanjiv Arora refused to comment. Meanwhile, the police has registered a case as a station dairy at Mangalabag Police Station.

The sources said that Vhicki Devi has developed bedsores and she is refusing treatment.


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