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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

End Of An Insurrection

She was hope for women down there. Her death symbolises victory for oppression.

End Of An Insurrection
End Of An Insurrection
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Phoolan Devi is dead. Brutally shot down on her doorstep, coming home from Parliament for lunch. Sitting on a balmy summer day on the river bank in Cambridge, I find it difficult to believe. But it is all too real—India's caste and class animosities are alive and well.

The Hampton court-like maze of dry, sandy, unyielding ravines on the Chambal is where she grew up. The villages perched on high banks are a cauldron of poverty, passion, caste, class and cold animosity. The strong perpetually wrong the weak. Vendetta, revenge and justice, only through the gun, has been the sum total of life for those unfortunate enough to live there. Nothing has changed over the centuries. The boat people (Mallahs) so low on the power ladder—what chance could they ever have in that survival pit? Phoolan's life is now well known—the hunger, poverty, abuse of every kind in the village, the sale to a 45-year-old consumptive of an 11-year-old girl and all the horrors that followed. She did turn like a tigress and take up arms against a sea of misfortunes. Is it any surprise? Then the surrender. The red bandanna and the smouldering rebellious eyes in the historic picture are not easily forgotten. But what is easily ignored is the fact that she spent 11 years in jail, when lifers spend eight actual years at the most. She had paid her debts if any were due.

The book and the film gave her world recognition. Her murder figures in every paper, including the Financial Times, and every TV channel. She became a member of Parliament. A symbol of the oppressed rural Indian women. Someone whom the women out and down there could look upon as a hope and possibility. She quickly learnt the little tricks of our politics, and more than held her own. And yet upper-crust India, the Capital's chatterati would not accept her. In my recent job I got enough invites to nose around in the elite...
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