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Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Ballot for Bullet


Seema Pariharís journey began from the ravines of Chambal valley. This former dacoit chief has now hung up her gun to become a politician. Nowadays, she believes more in Ďballotí than Ďbulletí, and her idol Gandhi, not Veerapan, prompted this change.
TSI | Issue Dated: July 15, 2007
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Ballot for Bullet ďI have started believing more in the power of the masses, than of guns. After spending 18 years of my life as a dacoit in the jungles of the Chambal valley, I believe that society can be changed more effectively through public office. After my release from prison, thatís exactly why Iíve devoted myself to public service. I stood for the Lok Sabha seat from Mirzapur constituency, but lost by a slender margin of 824 votes. Let me make it clear that Iím not into politics for personal gains, as I want to be the voice of the downtrodden and oppressed. As a dacoit, Iíve felt that nobody ever becomes a criminal by choice, the system and society usually force people to take such an extreme step. Several young members of my gang were with me, because they were needlessly harassed by the police.


Seema Parihar was a dacoit from 1983-2000, surrendering on 1 December, 2000. Released on bail in 2004, she has been acquitted in 23 of 29 cases. She is the only other female dacoit to have joined politics after Phoolan Devi.

They were left with no choice, and that automatically made them make the choice. I was 13 years old when I was abducted by the dacoit Lalaram and such was his terror that I couldnít think of escaping. Even if I had escaped, the police would have killed me, as I was one of the dacoits. I had to stay (which I did), for 18 years. Is this my fault? During my years with the gang, I would give vent to my frustration through the gun barrel, which was my agent for change. When I see the poor being exploited, I am filled with anger towards the unfairness of the system. My hands donít go towards the gun anymore, as I want to change the system through democratic means. I believe in the teachings of Gandhiji. Iím not speaking like a politician, because even when I was a dacoit, I took action against the exploitation of the downtrodden, but the means adopted were different. I have rescued many of the poor and downtrodden from the clutches of moneylenders and large landowners. They are living happily and I meet them sometimes. Seeing them prosper is the most wonderful feeling ever and this has been the most fulfilling part of my life as a dacoit. But that part of my life is over, the long walks in the jungle, the terror, the fear, et al. This wouldnít have been possible without the enormous love that people have given me, especially the people of Mirzapur. They would come in thousands to hear me speak, and tried their best to make me win. This is the real beauty of democracy, only here can a dacoit like Phoolan Devi or Seema Parihar get a second chance at life. I want to finish the incomplete tasks of Phoolan Devi. What Phoolan did for Mirzapur in five years, others cannot achieve that in fifty.Ē
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017