A group of armed bandits fighting the oppressive upper class has always fascinated minds. Capturing the imaginations of generations, these bandits have always had the rustic big, bad feel enough to grab attention. Though Gabar Singh is one who comes to mind for being in vogue as the symbol of this elusive breed; there are many with tales just as gripping as perhaps his. Let’s read about some of them in here.
She is a former bandit who has now made a foray into the life of politics. Well she certainly has the pre-requisites for being one! The true Indian Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi, as Seema Parihar relates was her inspiration of taking up the life of banditry. Later she played herself in the film Wounded – The Bandit Queen and has also appeared in Big Boss. One of her spouses was none other than the notorious Nirbhay Gujjar.
He was a notorious outlaw along the southern Madras Presidency in the early 20th century. He and his gang of about 20 to 30 robbers attacked travelers along the densely forested portion of the Madras and Travancore highways. He later graduated to attacked villages and small towns in the wee hours of the mornings creating a nuisance for people in those areas. He was finally shot around 1926 or 1927, ending his rule. He was the dreaded bogeyman for the children of the areas he attacked, certainly a trait of the likes of Gabbar Singh.
He was a notorious Indian dacoit operating between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. He was infamously known as Dadua. He was quite powerful having his men as the headmen of about 500 villages and his influence extended to 10 assembly segments. He first came to notice after joining the ranks of notorious dacoit, Raja Ragoli. He was killed in a fight with the Indian Police Force.
Manya Surve was the Indian urban dacoit of the Mumbai Underworld. He was killed by Mumbai’s police in an encounter in 1982. He was the first educated Hindu gangster who terrorized the area of Agar Bazaar, Dadar. He formed his own gang when he was not given entry to the underworld. After leading a life of urban banditry and crime for two years, he was shot dead by police on a tip by the underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar.
Bharat Kalicharan or Akku Yadav was a 32 year old alleged rapist and murderer. He was lynched by a mob of around 200 women in 2004 when he called a woman, he had raped, a prostitute. He was stabbed over seventy times, and chili powder and stones were thrown in his face. Infact a woman also hacked off his penis.
Sultana Daku was the bandit who had won the hearts of the people of Bijnore by rebelling against the prevalent system born out of feudalism and capitalism. He apparently worked for the lower segment of society, looted wealth from the mahajans and handed that over to the exploited and the needy. He was however hanged to death in Najibabad secretly for fear of violent protest against the then government when captured.
Better known as the Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi was an Indian dacoit who later went on to become a politician. She first became the moll of the leader if a group of bandits but was brutally gang raped when the latter was killed. She then took up banditry and was allegedly responsible for killing 22 upper-caste villagers in 1981, the Behmai massacre as we know it. Well this gutsy woman bandit surely could give Gabbar Singh a run for his money. She was shot dead by masked gunmen outside her Delhi bungalow in 2001.
Koose Muniswamy Veerappan better known as Veerappan was a dacoit active for years in the forest land surrounding the sates of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He was believed to have an army whose number ran up to hundreds using whom he defied the three state governments and Indian Border security paramilitary forces. He was so notorious that there was a price of US$920,000 on his head. He evaded arrest for 20 years until he was killed by police in 2004.
Nirbhay Singh Gujjar was probably the last among the big bad dacoits of Chambal. Just like a Bollywood film, the life of this bandit revolved around drinks, women, guns and criminals. He was certainly the Gabbar Singh of the modern times with AK-47 assault rifles, shotguns, bulletproof jackets, night-vision binoculars and mobile phones at his disposal. From a petty thief he graduated to a conniving master of a group of over 70 bandits. He was shot dead by police in 2005.
He was known as Daku Maan Singh or Thakur Maan Singh. He was born in Agra to a Rajput Family and lived in the village of Khera Rathore in the Chambal. Up until his death in 1955, he is believed to have committed 1,112 robberies and 185 murders, including the killing of 32 police officers. He was shot dead in 1955 while sitting under a banyan tree. He was probably the Gabbar Singh who was more of a Robin Hood than a notorious bandit.