Tamil director Pa Ranjith paid tribute to Phoolan Devi today on her death anniversary by sharing an illustration on Twitter. Phoolan Devi was shot dead on July 25, 2001 outside her Delhi bungalow by three masked gunmen in a revenge murder.
Phoolan Devi was born on August 10, 1963 in a poor Mallah family in rural Uttar Pradesh. She had joined a gang of dacoits as a teenager after her abusive child marriage. She was the only woman in the gang and when her lover was killed by one of the gang members due to internal rivalry, she was brutalised and raped by multiple men. She managed to escape, formed her own gang, mainly consisting of her own Mallah caste men, and exacted revenge by lining up 22 Thakurs in Behmai and shooting them dead in 1981. She surrendered in 1983 and served 11 years in jail.
She joined politics after Samajwadi Party withdrew all charges against her in 1994 and released her. She was elected to Lok Sabha in 1996 and again in 1999. She was a sitting MP when she was shot in 2001 as a revenge for her 1981 killings.
As a politician, Pholan Devi tried to establish herself as a champion of the India’s oppressed. “She said that she represented people who, like herself, were exploited and abused by their social betters,” as per a BBC report.
Artists like Sunil Awachar, Rahee Punyashloka and Siddhesh Gautam paid tribute by sharing their artwork on Twitter and Instagram.