We all have heard of many bandits or dacoits all through times but most of them rather all of them have been males. In all such stories we have heard the bandit is a guy and that is the notion. But here is the story of a woman dacoit popularly known as Bandit Queen. Her real name was Phoolan Devi. She later went on to become a politician too. She was like the robin hood for the people. Even though she was a bandit, she fought for the lower caste people and especially the women. She committed crimes against people from the upper caste but only to save the women of lower caste or to seek revenge from those who has done something bad. For this many people also called her an incarnation of Durga and Kali, who stood against the evil and were the savior of the people.
She was born into a very poor family in a small village of Uttar Pradesh. Since a very young age she was a very rebellious and outspoken kid. Being from a poor family and from a lower caste she had suffered a lot since the beginning. And she wasn’t one who would keep quiet if there was some injustice being done. Due to this nature of hers, one of her cousins married her off to a man who was way older than her and lived in another village. She was married off at a young age of eleven years.
Soon after the marriage her so called husband started abusing and raping her. She ran off from there and started living with her parents there and started working as a laborer. She wasn’t a very soft person and would fight for what is right. She did not accept a low pay, she demanded what she deserved. And soon she started pissing of the landlords and the upper caste people because of her rebellious nature. Also her being rebellious gave courage to the other people from lower caste as wll and even they started speaking up.These people then decided to silence her and put an end to all of this. One night the village leaders entered her house forcefully and raped her in front of her parents hoping that this abuse will shut her up. This was three years after she was married. She wasn’t going to sit silently and she went to complain against the village leaders to the police station where she was again raped in an attempt to humiliate and silence her.
The bandit queen was not ready to stop even now, she still went on to fight for what was right. Finally the high caste people hired a bandit gang to kidnap her and finally remove her from their lives. This again backfired on them as the two leaders of the gang fought over her and one of them ended up killing the other and married her and declared her the ‘bandit wife’. Phoolan Devi has said in her autobiography that Vikram the leader of he gang was the first person to treat her like a human being and the fell in love.
One of the famous incidents of her life is the Bimai incident. Two of the gang members did not like Phoolan Devi and thought that she was bad for the gang and slowly turned everyone against her and forced her and Vikram to flee. But they hadn’t gone far when they were caught by the gang and Vikram was killed and she was made a captive. During this period when she was held captive by Shri Ram and Lala Ram, she was beaten up and raped by many members of the gang repeatedly for three weeks. After which she escaped and joined another gang made up only of people from her caste. She continues to raid villages and trains and kidnap people from high caste to ask ransom. This continued for quite some time, by which time she had again become the leader of the new gang.
On 14th February 1981, she returned to the village where she was held captive to seek revenge from her tormentors. But to her dismay none of the men who had tortured or raped her were there. They all had gone to the city in search of jobs. This did not stop her. She wanted to see punishment. So tht very day she lined up and killed 22 men from the Thakur caste, because her tormentors were from the same caste. After this incident, the police launched a search party to find her but they were not successful in their attempts. The reason for this was that she had help from the people of the lower caste who helped her hide. Two years after the incident she and her gang surrendered at a rally to the then chief minister.
She served 11 years in jail after which she became a politician and worked for the welfare of the people. On July 2001 she was shot dead by Sher Singh Rana from the upper caste in order to avenge the deaths of his fellow caste members. Even today Phoolan Devi is remembered by the poor in her area who think of her as their Robin Hood. There is a group of women called the “Pink Sari Gang” who have taken law into their own hands and beat up the men who abuse poor village women. They have taken inspiration from the bandit queen and want to keep doing her work.