दुनिया फूलन देवी को जॉन ऑफ आर्क और आंग सान सू की की लिस्ट
में रखकर सलाम करती है (देखें दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी पत्रिका TIME की लिस्टhttp://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2057714_2251971,00.html लेकिन
मिस्टर काटजू के लिए वे पिछड़ी जाति यानी OBC की
डकैत और हत्यारिन मात्र थीं, जो
अपने चुनाव क्षेत्र में पिछड़ी जातियों की ज्यादा संख्या होने के कारण जीत गईं.
मिस्टर काटजू, क्या आप बताएंगे कि भारत का कौन सा
लोकसभा चुनाव क्षेत्र ऐसा है जहां OBC मेजोरिटी
में नहीं है. बताएं, क्योंकि
आप बेवकूफ नहीं हैं.
.क्योंकि मिस्टर काटजू को फूलन देवी होने
का मतलब नहीं मालूम और क्योंकि उन्हें लगता है कि फूलन देवी जैसी "डकैत और
हत्यारिन" सिर्फ जाति के दम पर चुनाव जीत जाती हैं, इसलिए यह बताना जरूरी है कि दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी पत्रिका TIME ने फूलन देवी को विश्व इतिहास की 16 शीर्ष विद्रोहिणियों की लिस्ट में चौथे नंबर पर रखा है. भारत
में यह एकमात्र एंट्री है. काटजू जी, TIME मैगजीन
में आप सिंगल कॉलम नहीं छप पाते.
Indian folk hero who metamorphosed from outlaw into
The Guardian, Thursday 26 July 2001 23.36 BST
Phoolan Devi, who has been gunned down, aged 38, on
her own doorstep in New Delhi's high-security area in broad daylight, has an
assured place in contemporary Indian history. She was an opposition MP but,
before that, she had been the legendary "Bandit Queen". This
honorific generated a lot of glamour - and led to the Channel 4-backed feature
film Bandit Queen (1994) - but it gained momentum not because of any Robin
Hood-like acts during her years as a dreaded dacoit and killer but because of
her metamorphosis, during the last seven years of her life, from notorious
outlaw into law-maker.
In the latter incarnation she did not make much
contribution to parliamentary debate, but fought valiantly, more outside the
House than inside, for the poor and the downtrodden, the class into which she
was born. She was even more ferocious in seeking gender equality and justice in
a male-dominated society in which the oppression and exploitation of women is
egregious. Her passion wasn't based on hearsay - she had been subjected to
unspeakable physical and sexual abuse. It was that which had driven her to the
Chambal ravines in central India, citadel of murderers, robbers, marauders and
She was born into an utterly impoverished, low-caste
family of boatmen, the second of four siblings. At 11 she was married off to a
much older man - and a sadist. Within a year she was back in the parental
hovel, but not for long.
A gang of upper-caste robbers abducted her and took
her to their Chambal hideout. Thus began her career in crime. In 1980 she was
gang-raped by the desperados belonging to the upper-caste Dhakurs. She took her
revenge in 1981, slaughtering 22 Dhakur gangsters, including her one-time gang
leader and lover. There was sensation and shock across India and a massive,
fruitless hunt for Phoolan.
In 1983, she surrendered to the authorities, reportedly
in return for a promise that she would stay behind bars for only eight years.
But she was released only in 1994. It is a measure of the notorious judicial
delays in India that although she was charged with 49 heinous crimes, she was
The victims of her killings, however, kept demanding
that she be put on trial again. But politically the times in India had changed.
The backward-castes had suddenly become important in India's electoral
calculus. Devi's caste became her passport to politics.
In 1996 she was first elected to parliament with a
big majority on the ticket of Samajwadi (Socialist Party). But parliament was
dissolved two years later and she lost her seat in the ensuing election; she
was elected again in 1999.
By this time she had become a cult figure with a
large following, especially among the lower-caste and the former untouchables.
By this time she had remarried; he was a small-time politician, Umed Singh.
More importantly, she had also started going to beauty parlours and wearing
designer clothes, thus joining the great Indian middle class even while leading
the fight of the poor and the disadvantaged for empowerment.
There were many biographies, including India's
Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi (1991) by Mala Sen. This formed
the basis of the Channel 4 production, which was only one of several films made
about her. It was only released in India after several cuts. The Indian
authorities did not want to show gory scenes of rape and murder. Thus,
ironically, the films and the books gave Phoolan tremendous publicity and
glamour - and a great deal of money by Indian standards.
Yet the circumstances of her death and the reaction
it has produced indicate that Phoolan might now be more powerful than at any
time during her life. Large-scale and at times violent demonstrations have
erupted in her state, Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous, and a key political
area. The leaders of her party have openly accused the Nationalist Hindu Party
(BJP) of conspiracy to kill her. They say that UP's BJP government deliberately
scaled down her security, something done also in the case of other opposition
leaders. The government has denied the charges.
UP is going to the polls to elect a provincial
parliament in February. The BJP's future prospects are uncertain, and the main
challenge comes to it from the party to which Phoolan belonged. It is led by
Mulyam Singh Yadav, a former chief minister of UP and a former Indian defence
minister. He has vowed that Phoolan's murder will be avenged by the people,
routing the BJP at the polls.
For the republic's president, K R Narayanan, Phoolan
Devi was the symbol of the struggle of the poorest of the poor and of the
feminist crusade at its finest.
• Phoolan Devi, campaigner, born 1963; died July 25