|Bandit Queen -Phoolan Devi, April 1,1994.murderpedia.org|
|A Jimmy Carter, former American President. summitgirltalkhq.com|
|Kalpana Chawla,from India. Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.en.wikipedi.org|
|Mrs.Sirima Bandaranaike former PM of Sri Lanka. dbsjeyaraj.com|
|Margaret Thatcher "The Iron Lady" -Former British PM,www.pinterest.com|
|UN Gen. Assembly President.Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit www.npgprints.com|
|Late Indira Gandhi, India's dynamic PM of India.oneworldpi.org|
|Sheikh Hasina of Bangala Desh newsnextbd.com|
With respect to lowly, criminal profession like robbery and dacoity in India, no body would have ever dreamed of a valiant woman becoming a notorious, daring bandit of the Champal valley of central India and hog the light for a decade plus. She was nick named ''Bandit Queen'' of the Champal Valley. One Ms. Poolan Devi(10 August 1963 – 25 July 2001) had entered the criminal scene with gusto. Born to a low-caste family (Mallah- boatmen caste) in rural Uttar Pradesh, Devi's family was very poor, being the fourth of six children in her family. Devi's early life was ridden with numerous incidents of physical and sexual abuse, besides intimidation. Her child marriage with a 30 year old man left her with lots of scars. A young girl's hope and dreams were taken away by a man who abused her. Fate had it, being single and barely 18 years of age, Devi was gang-raped by high-caste bandits, roaming in that area.
All these changed her psychologically and she determined to fight it out after this outrage, unlike many women folk who would just fumble, Phoolan Devi relegated her past painful life to the back of her mind and made up her mind to revenge the people who abused her and pushed her down to what she was today. Once she was kidnapped by a gang of dacoits, belonging to other caste and was saved by one Vikram Mallah, another bandit. Devi joined his gang and had a liaison with Vikram. With his help and other decoits, she rounded up 22 villagers of Thakker caste including her rapists and finally executed them. She also stabbed her ex-husband who raped her when she was barely 12 and warned prospective elderly men in the village against marrying girls before attaining puberty.
|Bandit queen Phoolan Devi. www.bhaskar.com|
After the massacre, Devi evaded capture for two years and at last surrendered to the authorities in 1983 as part of an amnesty deal brokered by the government on condition that her life, as well as other dacoits' lives, could be spared and, upon release, she should be provided with a small piece of land. She was sent to jail, facing a big charge sheet of roughly 48 crimes, including robberies, murder, kidnapping, extortion.etc. The government being merciless for eleven plus years denied her trial. At last, she was released from the prison in 1994, sympathetically the government gave serious consideration to her early psychological trauma and gave her a clean chit.
Poolan Devi, once a dangerous woman bandit, became a free citizen and she, on Samajwadi Party ticket, ran for Parliament election (11th) in the constituency of Mirzapur, UP and ultimately became an M.P. She also won the second election 13th Lok Sabha Parliament election and became an MP again in 1999. What a transition for an unfortunate low-caste woman who was a puppet on the string of fate tossed here and there without a stabilized life and at last settled on the most prestigious position - a member of the Indian Parliament(at Delhi) of the largest democracy in the world. Though, she being a member of Dalit community, became a changed person, for many well-educated people her name, by virtue of her having been an out law in the past, was unsavory. She was assassinated while being an MP on 25th July 2001 in New Delhi when she was just 37.
This is the poignant end of a poor and unfortunate Indian woman, a victim of evils in our society, who struggled through out her life with out any respite whatsoever - the day she came into this merciless world that too in a poor low caste family - till the day she was felled down by unscrupulous assassins in the heart of New Delhi. She became a mythical figure and the subject of folk songs.
(revised February 28, 2016)