Phoolan Devi’s Murderer Strikes Again
Phoolan Devi was a woman who made her own way in the world. After enduring unspeakable abuse, she rose from a life of poverty and violence. Over the years, she became one of India’s most influential and controversial leaders. However, her life was cut tragically short when she was gunned down outside of her home in 2001. Now, the man convicted of her murder may have killed again.
Phoolan Devi – Politician and Folk Hero
Phoolan was born into a low-caste family with little education and few opportunities. Like many women in these situations, Phoolan was constantly exposed to violence. However, Phoolan refused to accept her victimization. Instead, she turned the tables on her abusers and met their violence with force of her own.
Phoolan lived as a fugitive and a bandit for most of her life. During the 1970s and 1980s, Phoolan roamed India’s rural valleys with a gang of bandits. They robbed and killed wealthy, high-caste landowners who exploited the poor. This work made Phoolan a Robin Hood-like folk hero, avenging the injustices that the rich carried out on the poor. Eventually, however, Phoolan turned herself in to the authorities. She was jailed for over a decade, but once she was released she became a vocal advocate for India’s poor.
After her release, the people elected Phoolan to India’s parliament. However, her past life was not entirely behind her. Even as a free woman, Phoolan was still facing over 70 charges for serious crimes, including murder and kidnapping. Unfortunately, however, Phoolan never got her day in court. Instead, Phoolan’s life was cut tragically short at the hands of a killer.
Phoolan’s Murder and the Cycle of Violence
In 2001, when she was only 37 years old, Phoolan was gunned down outside of her home. The attack was revenge for Phoolan’s aggression against high-caste men, the very activities that earned her love and respect from the people. Justice for Phoolan came slow, since it took over 10 years her murderer, Sher Singh Rana, to be brought to justice. Rana was convicted of Phoolan’s murder in 2014.
Rana’s motive for assassinating Phoolan is a reflection of the type of class warfare that creates cycles of violence. Rana told police that he killed Phoolan as revenge for her violence against high-caste men.
However, the violence that Rana complained of was also carried out in revenge. Phoolan had murdered several men who had raped her, and this is the crime that Rana claimed to be avenging. Clearly, in these instances, violence simply creates more violence and the legal system must intervene to stop it.
Although he was sentenced to life in prison in 2014, Rana was only held in prison for 12 years before he was released on bail. However, it appears that he may still be up to his old violent ways. Now, Rana has been arrested for the murder of yet another social influencer. Rana has been implicated in the assassination of the brother of a political activist, placing him back behind bars.
Ending Violence Against Women
Women everywhere are affected by gender-based violence. However, instead of hiding in the shadows, women are starting to fight back. Like Phoolan, they used their experiences to become advocates and leaders. Lady Kharrazi is currently working on a film about Phoolan Devi, giving the world more insight into this important female folk hero. Hopefully, the film will inspire more young women to stand up against violence and oppression.