Jaipur: Hundreds of members of Jain community took out a rally here on Monday in protest against a Rajasthan High Court order declaring “Santhara” a religious fast to death as “unconstitutional”. “We want to educate people on Santhara so we took out this march,” said Vijay Jain, a shopkeeper. “There is a need to understand that Santhara and suicide are not the same,” he added. The followers of Jainism did not open their shops and did not send their children to schools and colleges. Schools owned or run by the community were closed on Monday. Similar marches were observed in other parts of the state includinhg Kota, Banswara and Ajmer among others.
A division bench of the high court on August 10 had declared Santhara unconstitutional as it heard a public interest litigation filed in 2006 by Nikhil Soni. “The court observed that it (Santhara) is violation of article 21 of the constitution and directed the state to stop this process. If someone practices it then FIR should be filed against the person under the Indian Penal Code’ section 309 – punishment for attempting suicide – and police to undertake investigation into it,”. He said that anyone provoking or supporting them should also be booked under IPC’s section 306, relating to abatement of suicide.