Sunday, September 11, 2016

5 Of The Most Dangerous Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal

The ravines of Chambal AKA Beehad have a special place in Northern-Central India's folklore. The stories of dacoits like Phoolan Devi, Paan Singh Tomar, Man Singh and Nirbhay Singh Gujjar are still household tales in these areas and are often narrated by grannies. 

The Stories Of Five Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal
Paul Compton/flickr
"Beehad me baaghi hote hain, daku milte hain parliament mein" 
This dialogue by Irfan Khan in the movie Paan Singh Tomar did create a ruckus in the power corridors. But it's also a fact that a few of the famous dacoits of Chambal have entered the parliament after forsaking their profession.
The ravines of Chambal cover the areas of three states - Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. But Madhya Pradesh's Morena and Uttar Pradesh's Bundalkhand have produced dacoits who would give Gabbar Singh, the famous dacoit in Sholay, a run for his money. Take a look

1. Phoolan Devi 

Some call her a dacoit. But for many she became the symbol of rebellion against the tyranny of the upper castes and elite against those who belong to lower castes.
The Stories Of Five Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal
Better known as Bandit Queen, Phoolan rose to fame after she allegedly massacred 22 Rajputs in Behmai village in February 1981. She carried out the massacre seven months after the upper caste Rajputs of Behmai village allegedly raped her for three long weeks before she escaped with the help of Man Singh Mallah, who later became her trusted lieutenant. In 1983, after a long negotiation with the Indira Gandhi government, she surrendered along with other members of her gang.
The Stories Of Five Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal
In 1996, two years after she was released from prison, she contested the Lok Sabha elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Mirzapur seat and won. In 1998 she lost the election but was re-elected in 1999. She remained an MP till 2001 when she was assassinated outside her bungalow in Delhi.

2. Daku Man Singh

Daku Man Singh is perhaps the most feared dacoit in the history of Chambal. Born in a Rajput family in Khera Rathore village in Chambal, Man Singh was a local Robin Hood. Folk songs were made after him by locals who used to get freebies of loot. "Rasta Chalta Koi Nahin Loota, Na Bahino Se Chheene Haar" "Jo Bhi Mila So Baant Diya, Bahino Ko Pahinaye Bhaat," says one of the songs made after him. 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.
S.N. Subba Rao mentions having heard Singh speak on stage in 1953 at a public function in Chambal. He recalls, “I was surprised to hear him speak. He was totally unlike what I had read about him in the papers. Though at the peak of his popularity or notoriety, he was respectful and humble. I was impressed with the contradiction he presented. The government wanted him dead with a big inam (reward) on his head and here he was, standing before the adoring public."
Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan has also been in awe of Man Singh's debonair. Bachchan says, "In my younger days, we were in awe of Daku Man Singh, whose escapades and adventures were common conversation in and around every possible gathering"
The Stories Of Five Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal
Neelabh/bccl use as Representative image 
Bollywood made a movie after him Daku Man Singh in 1971 starring Dara Singh.
Man Singh has a temple after him in his ancestral village in Khera Rathore.

3. Nirbhay Singh Gujjar

Nirbhay Singh Gurjar AKA Baagi was one of the last dacoits of the Chambal. With as many as 205 criminal cases registered against him, he was certainly among the dacoits who were most feared. If conjecture is to be believed he used to run a parallel government in 40 villages of the Chakranagar area in UP.
The Stories Of Five Dacoits Who Once Ruled The Beehads Of Chambal
Gujjjar carried a bounty of 2.5 lakhs provided by UP and MP police and was believed to be a really bad guy with a fascination for women, wine and weapons. 
Nirbhay Singh Gujjar
He reportedly had AK-47 assault rifles, shotguns, bulletproof jackets, night-vision binoculars and mobile phones at his disposal. He was killed in an encounter in November 2005. 

4. Paan Singh Tomar

He isn't among the most fierce dacoits of Chambal, but his story from being a soldier and champion athlete to being a Daku is an interesting one. In fact, 2012 Bollywood movie Paan Singh Tomar more or less shows what he went through and how the tyranny of Babu Singh, a local village goon of his village Bhidosa in MP, affected him. After retiring from the military in 1972, he decided to live in a village. But soon things worsened when he had a land dispute with Babu Singh who headed a family of 200 and also had seven licensed guns.
Pan Singh Tomar
A panchayat was held to solve the dispute and Tomar was asked to give Rs 3000 for his land to Babu Singh. Tomar obliged but his nephew retaliated as he was paying money for his own land. While the collector, who was witness to the accord signed in the Panchayat, went out of the district for 15 days, Babu Singh barged into Tomar's house and beat his 95-year-old mother. On Tomar's return, she asked him to avenge this insult. Tomar along with his nephew rushed for Babu and shot him dead. Ever since, he became a daku and wandered in Beehad of Chambal. Later, on October 1, 1981, the Circle Inspector Mahendra Pratap Singh Chauhan and his team of sixty trapped and killed Tomar. Ten other members of his gang were also killed. The gunfight lasted over 12 hours.
Pan Singh Tomar

5. Jagjivan Parihar

Jagjivan Parihar was killed in an encounter in 2007 in Morena district in Chambal area. He was a dreaded dacoit with a bounty of Rs 7.25 lakh on his head. Parihar became notorious in the late 1990s and early 2000s and became a headache for police and state government. Like Nirbhay Gujjar, he also used modern weapons to counter police and others who stood against him. Several cases of murder, loot and burglary were registered against him. He was so smart that he used to make his men dress in sarees to deceive police while he himself used to flee from the place. In the 2007 encounter, police had recovered an AK-47 rifle, a semi-automatic, a 303 and three Manchester (M-1) automatic rifles from the house he and other members of his gangs were hiding in.

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