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Phoolan Devi's Birth Anniversary: Lesser Known Facts about the Bandit Queen

Edited By: Ahona Sengupta

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Last Updated: August 10, 2019, 10:59 IST

File photo of late bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi.

File photo of late bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi.

The leader of Phoolan Devi's first gang, Babu Gujjar, raped and brutalized her for three days before being saved by Vikram Mallah, the second-in-command of the gang, who killed Gujjar before becoming the gang leader himself.

Phoolan Devi, widely known as the Bandit Queen, was born on August 10, 1963 in Uttar Pradesh. Her family got her married when she was mere 11 years old. Her husband was three times her age and used to beat and sexually abuse her on a regular basis.

Phoolan Devi journey as a dacoit began in 1979 when she was either kidnapped by or simply drawn to a gang of bandits. Hailed both as a murderer and a savior, her life would prompt noted filmmaker Shekhar Kapur to make a film on the fiery lady – which Phoolan Devi herself did not like too much.

On Phoolan Devi's 56th birth anniversary, here's looking at some of the lesser known facts about the bandit queen.

1. When Phoolan Devi was 18, she was gang-raped by high caste outlaws after the gang she belonged to was assaulted by rivals. She was raped for several weeks by the men.

2. The leader of Phoolan Devi's first gang, Babu Gujjar, raped and brutalized her for three days before being saved by Vikram Mallah, the second-in-command of the gang, who killed Gujjar before becoming the gang leader himself. Vikram Mallah and Phoolan Devi would go onto having a relationship themselves, despite both having their respective spouses.

3. Phoolan Devi would later revisit the village of Behmai to exact revenge for her rape. As many as 22 Rajput men belonging to that village were lined up in a row and shot dead by Phoolan's gang.

4. The Behmai massacre provoked outrage across the country. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, V. P. Singh, resigned in the wake of the Behmai killings.

5. A massive police manhunt was launched which, however, failed to locate Phoolan.

6. It was during this time that Phoolan Devi began to be called the Bandit Queen.

7. Two years after the Behmai massacre since the police had still not captured Phoolan, the Indira Gandhi Government decided to negotiate a surrender.

8. She finally surrendered before the Indian government after they accepted her demands to return her father's land, to provide a government job to her sibling, and not to offer a death sentence to her gang members, but an 8-year imprisonment.

9. In 1983, Phoolan was accused of 48 criminal offenses including murder, plunder, arson as well as kidnapping for ransom.

10. Phoolan was refuted trial for 11 years. Finally, in 1994, a low caste preacher of state of Uttar Pradesh freed Phoolan Devi of

all the charges that was filed against her.

11. In 1995, a year after her release, Phoolan was invited by Dr. Ramadoss (founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi) to participate in a conference about alcohol prohibition and women Pornography.

12. Phoolan Devi later married Unmed Singh and the couple on February 15, 1995 embraced Buddhism at the famous Buddhist site Deekshabhoomi.

13. In 1996, after 2 years after her release, she stood for the eleventh Lok Sabha election for Samajwadi Party from Mirzapur area in Uttar Pradesh and won the election and served as an MP from 1996 to 1998. She lost the seat in 1998 but was re-elected in 1999 before she was assassinated.

14. On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was shot dead by 3 masked shooters outside of her Delhi home. She was taken to a hospital but was declared dead.

15. She was hit nine times, variously in the head, chest, shoulder and right arm before her death.

first published:August 10, 2019, 10:59 IST
last updated:August 10, 2019, 10:59 IST