The biography of Phoolan Devi, a prominent Indian politician, and activist who rose to fame as a bandit queen in the 1980s.
Born on August 10, 1963, in a small village in Uttar Pradesh, Phoolan’s life was marked by poverty, oppression, and violence.
Despite all the odds, she became one of the most influential and controversial figures in Indian history.
This biography offers a glimpse into the life of Phoolan Devi.
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Childhood and Early Life of Phoolan Devi
Phoolan Devi was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, to a family of Mallahs, a low-caste community traditionally working as boatmen.
Devi Din Mallah’s father was a poor farmer who struggled to make ends meet.
Phoolan was the fourth of five children and had to drop out of school early due to her family’s financial constraints.
Phoolan’s childhood was marked by poverty and abuse. She was married off at 11 to a man twice her age, who subjected her to physical and sexual abuse.
After enduring several years of marital trauma, Phoolan escaped her husband’s house and returned to her parent’s home.
Life as a Bandit
Phoolan Devi’s life took a dramatic turn in 1979 when she was kidnapped by a gang of dacoits (bandits) led by a man named Babu Gujjar.
Phoolan was held captive for three weeks and subjected to brutal torture and sexual assault before escaping.
However, instead of returning to her village, Phoolan joined Babu Gujjar’s gang and began a life of banditry.
She soon became the gang leader and gained notoriety for targeting upper-caste men who had committed crimes against low-caste women.
Phoolan’s life as a bandit was marked by violence and controversy. She was accused of several crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and extortion.
However, she received praise as a hero from many people who saw her as a symbol of resistance against the oppressive caste system.
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Arrest and Imprisonment
In 1983, Phoolan Devi surrendered to the police and was arrested for her alleged involvement in the Behmai massacre.
The massacre had 22 upper-caste killed in retaliation for the gang rape of Phoolan and several other low-caste women.
However, Phoolan spent the next 11 years in prison, facing brutal treatment and abuse from fellow inmates and prison officials.
During her imprisonment, she learned to read and write and became politically aware.
Political Career of Phoolan Devi
After her release from prison in 1994, Phoolan Devi entered politics and joined the Samajwadi Party, a socialist party in Uttar Pradesh.
She contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from the Mirzapur constituency in 1996 and became a Member of Parliament.
Phoolan’s political career was marked by controversy and criticism. She was accused of using her past as a bandit to gain political mileage and was criticized for her lack of political experience and education.
However, she was also seen as a voice for the marginalized and oppressed communities, especially women and lower castes.
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Assassination of Phoolan Devi
On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was assassinated outside her official residence in New Delhi.
The motive behind her murder is still unclear, but it is believed to be related to her political activities and past as a bandit.
Phoolan Devi’s death was mourned by many people in India and abroad, who saw her as a symbol of resistance against oppression and injustice.
She remains a controversial and divisive figure, with opinions on her legacy varying widely depending on one’s political and social beliefs.