Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

Updated: Aug 10, 2019, 09:41 | Sunny Rodricks
  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Phoolan Devi: Phoolan Devi, also known as the Bandit Queen, was an Indian dacoit turned politician. At the age of 18, she was gang-raped by high-caste outlaws after the gang she belonged to was attacked by rivals. As a result of this incident, Phoolan became a gang-leader and sought revenge. In 1981 Devi and her gang returned to the village where she had been raped. She recognized two men who raped her and sought whereabouts of the others. When they refused to divulge details, she rounded up 22 Thakur caste villagers, including two of her rapists, and executed them. The Behmai massacre provoked an outrage across the country catching the attention of political leaders of that time. A large-scale police manhunt was launched but they failed to locate Phoolan Devi. The media dubbed her Bandit Queen at this stage. Phoolan was charged with 48 crimes, including 30 charges of dacoity (banditry) and kidnapping. Her trial was delayed for 11 years, during which time she remained in prison. She was shot dead by three masked gunmen outside of her Delhi bungalow. She was hit five times - three shots to her head and two to her body. She was taken to a nearby hospital but was declared dead.

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Veerappan: Koose Muniswamy also popularly known as Veerappan was born in Karnataka's Gopinatham village in a Tamil Vanniyar family of cattle-grazers. Veerappan started as an assistant to his relative Sevi Gounder, a notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler and began his career in crime in 1970. He started off as sandalwood and ivory smuggler, killing elephants for ivory poaching but later started killing those who opposed his activities. Veerappan's banditry started when he shot an elephant at age 10. His first murder was committed at age 17. Over the years his victims included forest officials, police officers, and informers. Veerappan defied the state governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and the Border Security Force for over a decade. He was wanted for killing many people, poaching elephants and smuggling ivory and tons of sandalwood. A huge reward was offered for his capture, yet he dodged arrest for 20 years until killed by the police on 18 October 2004.

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Daku Man Singh: Daku Man Singh was a dacoit to some while Robinhood to others. He was born in a royal family of Rajput and lived in the village of Khera Rathore in the Chambal which sheltered generations of outlaws in deep ravines and scrub forests since the 13th century. Daku Man Singh is believed to have committed over a thousand robberies and almost 200 murders, including the killing of police officers. Man Singh used to operate in the Chambal region along with his sons, his brother and his nephews. In 1955, Daku Man Singh and his son, Subedar Singh, were shot dead by the Gurkha troops while they were resting under a banyan tree. Most often, Daku Man Singh was referred to as 'Robinhood' as he was very helpful towards the local people making him a people's man. Daku Man Singh also has a temple in his honour in Khera Rathore. Local inhabitants of Chambal, especially the Rajput Community of Chambal Vally, referred to Daku Man Singh as 'Chambal Ka Sher'.


    Pic: A screengrab from video

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Nirbhay Singh Gujar: Nirbhay Singh Gujjar was one of the last much-feared dacoits in Chambal. He started from being a petty thief to being a master of a band of dacoits. With as many as 205 criminal cases registered against him, Gujjar carried a cash reward of Rs 2.5 lakh on his head announced by Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP) police. He was given the moniker 'WWW' due to his love for wine, women and wealth. So fond he was of women, that his colourful life was always surrounded by them. The story also goes that he was responsible for many women to become bandits. He was once married to Seema Parihar, another bandit. She had even appeared on Bigg Boss Season 4. Nirbhay Singh Gujjar was shot dead by the Special Task Force (STF) in Cheetapur ravines under Ajitmal police station of Etawah.

    Pic: A screengrab from video

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Seema Parihar: Seema Parihar was once upon a time a renowned bandit has now made her way into politics. During her banditry days, it is rumoured that Parihar committed many crimes. Seema was jailed in 2000 after 18 years of being a dacoit. In the year 2000, Seema surrendered before Uttar Pradesh police and was jailed for eight murders and half a dozen kidnapping. Seema then turned to politics and since then has been living a dignified life. Pic/AFP

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Paan Singh Tomar: Indian soldier, athlete, and rebel are few of the facets of Paan Singh Tomar. Paan Singh Tomar served as an athlete in the Indian army where his talent for running was discovered. A seven-time national steeplechase champion in the 1950s and 1960s, Paan Singh also represented India at the 1958 Asian Games. Paan Singh turned into a bandit after a land feud that he experienced in the Chambal Valley. Paan Singh was accused of killing over nine people of his community. On October 1, 1981, Paan Singh Tomar was trapped by Circle Inspector Mahendra Pratap Singh Chauhan and his special team of 500 men and shot dead

    Pic: A screengrab from video

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Sultana Daku: Sultana Daku is undoubtedly and undisputedly the most notorious dacoit in India's modern-day history. Sultana Daku was a rebel who fought against the systems of capitalism and feudalism in Bijnore. He belonged to the bhantu clan of criminals who terrorized Uttar Pradesh back in the 1920s. Sultana Daku was a Robin Hood in the true sense as he would loot the wealth of the upper class and rich people and used to give them to the poor and needy in the society. Sultana Daku had a great and long-lasting impact on the British Raj in the early 20s of the 20th century and was highly feared by them. Sultana Daku was most recognized for his violent protests. He was captured by the government during one such protest and was hanged to death.

    Pic: A screengrab from video

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Shiv Kumar Patel: Patel was popularly known as 'Dadua' and was one of the most influential men across the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It is said that Dadua had controlled over 500 villages and his influence also extended to over 10 assembly segments. Shiv Kumar Patel was killed while in a fight with the Indian police forces in 2007.

    In the file photo, the body of Shiv Kumar and nine of his gang lay scattered in the jungles of Chitrakoot after a fierce encounter with Special Task Force (STF). Pic/AFP

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Manya Surve: Manya Surve's story from being a B.A. graduate from Kirti College and becoming the modern-day bandit is a far from the traditional definition of 'dacoit' and 'bandit'. Manya Surve was born in 1944 in the Ranpar Village, in a Bhandari caste. A young Surve moved to Mumbai with his mother and stepfather in 1952 at the age o 12. For many years he lived in different chawls in Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel in Mumbai. Manohar Arjun Surve popularly known as Manya Surve was an infamous urban dacoit and gangster in the Mumbai underworld. Manya, as he was popularly called, got implicated in a murder that he did not commit and was sentenced to life in Yerwada Jail, Pune. Manya was the first educated gangster, urban dacoit, who hailed from an area called Agar Bazaar in Dadar, Mumbai. He wasn't forced into being a dacoit, unlike others. Manya Surve was involved in criminal activities such as heists, robberies, narcotics trafficking, murder to name a few. His rise in the Mumbai underworld scene was rapid and prolific. Surve was known for his daredevilry and strategic planning. Surve was killed in a police encounter on 11 January 1982 near the Ambedkar college junction in Wadala. Manya Surve's death in 1982 during an encounter with the Maharashtra police became known as the city's first recorded encounter killing.

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Jagan Gurjar: Jagan Gurjar, a dreaded dacoit and bandit recently surrendered before the police in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Gurjar has more than 100 cases of robbery, kidnapping, extorting and looting against him in three states and has surrendered thrice before. Forty-nine-year-old Gurjar carried a reward of Rs 40,000 on his head. While surrendering to the police, Gurjar had owned an AK-57 rifle which he bought from a Madhya Pradesh-based resident for Rs 3.5 lakh. Gurjar had unleashed terror in Chambal region and was active in districts of Dholpur, Karauli, Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Sawai Madhopur besides Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Shivpuri and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Jambulinga Nadan: Jambulinga Nadan is a bandit whose root can be traced to the early 20th century. Nadan was said to be one of the most dangerous dacoits in Madras (present-day Chennai). Nadan used to walk around the dense forests of the area during the middle of the night and create a ruckus in small towns.

    In the file photo, Chambal River, which is also known as the paradise of dacoits!

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  • Phoolan Devi, Veerappan, Sultana Daku: Most notorious Indian dacoits

    Anisa Begum: Anisa Begum was born in Rampura village in Jalaun district and gained prominence due to her skill of handling any weapon with ease. Anisa was part of Saleem Gujjar’s gang but then left him and formed a gang of her own. Begum was known to never miss her target and earned immense respect from her gang members. She had committed many robberies in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Begum was also known to be proficient in wielding lathis, shooting guns and handling knives and daggers.

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About The Gallery

Indian dacoit turned politician Phoolan Devi is well known as the Bandit Queen. From being raped at the age of 18 to becoming a gang leader and executing her rapists, Phoolan Devi came a long way in her life. On the Indian Bandit Queen's birth anniversary, we take a look back at some of the notorious Indian bandits who once struck terror in their region!

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