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Phoolan Devi (10 August 1963 – 25 July 2001), popularly known as "Bandit queen", was an Indian bandit and later a Member of Parliament.

Born into a low caste family in rural Uttar Pradesh, Phoolan endured poverty as a child and had an unsuccessful marriage before taking to a life of crime. Having developed major differences with her parents and her husband alike, the teenage Phoolan sought escape by running away and joining a gang of bandits. She was the only woman in that gang, and her relationship with one gang member, coupled with other minor factors, caused a gunfight between gang members. Phoolan's lover was killed in that gunfight. The victorious rival faction, who were upper-caste Rajputs, took Phoolan to their village of Behmai, confined her in a room, and took turns to rape her repeatedly over several days. After escaping (or being let off), Phoolan rejoined the remnants of her dead lover's faction, took another lover from among those men, and continued with banditry. A few months later, her new gang descended upon the village of Behmai to exact revenge for what she had suffered. As many as twenty-two Rajput men belonging to that village were lined up in a row and shot dead by Phoolan's gang.

Since Phoolan was a low-caste woman, and her victims were high-caste men, the press portrayed the Behmai massacre as an act of righteous lower-caste rebellion and Phoolan herself as an oppressed feminist Robin Hood. The respectful sobriquet 'Devi' was conferred upon her by the media and public at this point.

Phoolan evaded capture for two years after the Behmai massacre before she and her few surviving gang-members surrendered to the police in 1983. She was charged with forty-eight major crimes, including multiple murders, plunder, arson and kidnapping for ransom. Phoolan spent the next eleven years in jail, as the various charges against her were tried in court. In 1994, the state government headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party summarily withdrew all charges against her, and Phoolan was released. She then stood for election to parliament as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party and was twice elected to the Lok Sabha as the member for Mirzapur. In 2001, she was shot dead at the gates of her official bungalow (allotted to her as MP) in New Delhi by former rival bandits whose kinsmen had been slaughtered at Behmai by her gang. The 1994 film Bandit Queen (made around the time of her release from jail) is loosely based on her life until that point.

SOURCE: Wikipedia