MRITYUNJAY PRABHAKAR | December 3, 2006 00:00
A new bandit Queen arrives on the scene
From the ravines of Chambal to the corridors of power, this is apparently the latest game plan of Bandit Queen II. After unleashing a reign of terror in Uttar Pradesh for nearly two decades, Seema Parihar, along with a kitty of 70 murders, 30 dacoities and 200 kidnappings, is all set to serve the nation in her new avatar. Seema, however, says that she has only six cases pending against her which include attempts to murder.
On 17 November, she joined backward leader Udit Raj’s political outfit, the Indian Justice Party. Unlike Phoolan Devi, this bandit queen had returned to the mainstream through the world of glamour and starred in a film Wounded, expected to be released next month. And guess who is her prime target in UP politics? It’s an ambitious one. None other than Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.
Speaking to TSI exclusively from Auriah in UP, she said, “I want to work for the upliftment of women. Mayawati is there, but she is not doing enough.” Her new-found political godfather Udit Raj, when contacted, stood by her, “She is not a criminal by heart. She was forced into a life of crime as Seema was abducted at the age of 13.” For Udit Raj, “Seema will work for the upliftment of women in the state.”
Talk to her on politics and you know she has learnt to say things which sound politically correct. “I have not joined politics to contest elections. I have no such ambition,” she says and then quickly adds, “Well, it all depends on Uditji. My job will be to lead Indian Justice Party to victory during the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state.” So there, you have Seema Parihar sounding almost like her predecessor Phoolan Devi who had joined hands with the Samajwadi Party and headed straight for Parliament.
Similar to Phoolan, this bandit queen too was a victim of circumstances. Born in a Baburai village in Auriah district, she was a “pawn” in the ongoing feud between her father and the local Gujjars over a plot of land. She was eventually abducted by dacoit Lala Ram, raped, and forced to marry another old dacoit Fakkad Baba, “old enough to be her father,” revealed one of her associate. After the death of Lala Ram and Fakkad Baba in police encounters, another dreaded dacoit, Nirbhay Gujjar took her under his wings. Then began her training in arms, which ranged from .303 to AK 47. Her writ ran from Etawah, Agra, Kanpur, Bhind and Morena in UP. After Nirbhay’s death, Seema led the gang and reportedly surrendered when the going got too tough for her.
In Chambal’s history Phoolan and Seema, however, are not only ones to have ruled the ravines. In the mid sixties it was one-armed, Putli Bai, the paramour of the dreaded dacoit Sultan. Putli Bai was the original bandit queen. Movies were made and books were written on her, including Abhishapta Chambal (Curse of Chambal in Bengali) by Tarun Bhaduri (father of Jaya Bachchan). Putli Bai, a nautch girl was abducted and forced into a life of crime. She had lost an arm in a police encounter and was finally killed by the police. This was the period, when poor villagers took to Chambal for revenge killings
Over the years, with the caste
system playing a dominant role in Indian politics, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, political leaders have been making a beeline for inducting the former dacoits, allegedly exploited and tortured by the upper caste. Like
Phoolan, Seema too has personal
ambitions. And if all goes well for her, the UP assembly may have her its dacoit queen politician and Indian Justice Party its first MLA.