21 April, 2021

A Bullet-Riddled Biography

Nemesis catches up with the Bandit Queen and opens a can of ugly worms—from an exultant Behmai and cynical caste equations to a husband under cloud

Tribhuvan Tiwari
A Bullet-Riddled Biography
She had been leading a rather placid life in recent times, but she could never exorcise the ghosts of her past. There were also rumours of a troubled personal life. So, it was only natural for Phoolan Devi to be gripped by a steadily escalating sense of foreboding. "I was born into a violent life and trust me, I will have a violent death," India’s most famous outlaw told her biographer Mala Sen. That was some six years ago. The mysterious and threatening telephone calls never really stopped at her two Delhi homes. A month ago, she even applied for a licence for a Colt pistol—only to be turned down last fortnight.

On an overcast afternoon last week, her grisly premonition came true. Brutalised teenager-turned-fabled outlaw-turned-lawmaker, iconised through a hugely successful film and a couple of biographies, the Bandit Queen, as the world loved calling her, lay in a pool of blood outside her Ashoka Road MP’s bungalow in the heart of Delhi. Three assailants alighting from a bottle-green Maruti had pumped eight bullets into her, killing her almost instantly and injuring...

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