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Published on 09 May 2014 | over 3 years ago

Rare interview of the infamous Phoolan Devi, commonly known as Bandit Queen with Rajeev Shukla (pre-2000)

Phoolan Devi:

Phoolan Devi (10 August 1963 -- 25 July 2001), popularly known as the "Bandit Queen", was an Indian dacoit (armed bandit), and later a politician.

Phoolan was born in rural India, in a poor family belonging to the Mallaah caste. Married to a much older man at an early age, she was branded as a social outcast after she left her husband to escape marital mistreatment. A family feud resulted in her arrest and made her a victim of police brutality, which greatly embittered her. She was kidnapped by a gang of bandits, who had been paid to kill her. Subsequently, she married one of them, Vikram Mallah, who protected her from a rape attempt by the gang leader, and became part of the gang. With Vikram as the new leader of the gang, the group punished Phoolan's ex-husband, and carried out several robberies. Later, a group of bandits belonging to the Thakur caste murdered Vikram and gang-raped Phoolan. After escaping from their captivity, she raised a Mallah-dominated gang, which carried out a series of violent robberies. In 1981, her gang raided the Thakur village where she killed 22 Thakur men in what came to be known as the Behmai massacre.

She gained a fearsome reputation as the "Bandit Queen", and some villagers started calling her an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. Some people saw her violence as the lower castes' retaliation against the cruelty of the upper-castes. In 1983, she surrendered and was tried for complicity in over 30 instances of murder and numerous other crimes. She spent 11 years in prison while her trial was pending. The 1994 film Bandit Queen, made against her will, was based on her life. Subsequently, the Samajwadi Party's state government withdrew all cases against her. After her release, she contested elections as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party, and was elected to parliament in 1996. On 25 July 2001, she was shot dead outside her home by masked men claiming to seek revenge for the Behmai massacre.

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