Recollecting the memories of the Revolutionary Phoolan Devi

By The Colourboard Desk

Phoolandevi was born in the small village of Ghura Ka Purwa, Jalaun district in Uttar Pradesh, in Mallah caste on 10th August 1963.

(Mentioning here caste here, because this is the only reason, why her life turned out to be worse)

She was married to a man three times her age named Puttilal Mallah. She suffered continuous beatings and sexual abuse and after several attempts at running away was returned to her family in 'disgrace'.

When she ran back to home she was falsely accused of robbery by her cousin brother.

She was in jail for 3 days and was raped by the police and threatened to speak about it.

She was send to her husband's house where she was raped by her husband again and again.

After leaving the house again she joined the bandits and gained respect in the group.

There was a caste struggle in the bandits as well, the so called uppercaste Rajputs used to harrass and abuse the Mallas.

She was beaten, raped and humiliated by succession of several upper caste gang members over a period of three weeks during detainment in Behmai. In a final indignity they paraded her naked around the village.

As time passed, on 14 February 1981 innBehmai, she killed 22 Rajputs and also assassinated the police that forced her and raped her.

She looted the dominants and used to share it with the poor, after that she was titled as 'God for the people' in village.

Two years In February 1983, she agreed to surrender to the authorities. However, she said that she didn't trust the Uttar Pradesh Police and insisted that she would only surrender to the Madhya Pradesh Police.

Phoolan stood for election to the 11th Lok Sabha from the Mirzapur constituency in Uttar Pradesh. She contested the election as a member of the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose government had withdrawn all cases against her and summarily released her from prison. She won the election and served as an MP during the term of the 11th Lok Sabha (1996–98). She lost her seat in the 1998 election but was re-elected in the 1999 election and was the sitting member of parliament for Mirzapur.

On 15 February 1995, Phoolan Devi and her husband Ummed Singh embraced Buddhism at the famous Buddhist site Deekshabhoomi.

25 July 2001, Devi was shot dead by three masked gunmen outside of her Delhi bungalow. She was hit nine times, variously in the head, chest, shoulder and right arm.

The prime suspect, Sher Singh Rana, later surrendered to the police. Rana allegedly claimed to have murdered Devi in revenge for the upper-caste men she gunned down in the Behmai massacre.

Shekhar Kapur made a movie Bandit Queen (1994) about Phoolan Devi's life up to her 1983 surrender, based on Mala Sen's 1993 book India's Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi.

Although she was illiterate, Phoolan composed her autobiography entitled The Bandit Queen of India: An Indian Woman's Amazing Journey From Peasant to International Legend, with the help of international authors Marie-Therese Cuny and Paul Rambali.

A graphic novel titled Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen by Claire Fauvel was released by NBM Publishing in April 2020.

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