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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
'Bandit Queen' shot dead
Friends and relatives gathered around her body in hospital
Friends and relatives gathered at the hospital
Indian politician Phoolan Devi - the notorious "Bandit Queen" - has been shot dead, according to police.

She was coming out of her car ... when some gunmen attacked her and fired indiscriminately.

Police official Suresh Roy
The shooting took place at her home in the capital, Delhi.

"She was brought to hospital ... where she was declared dead," senior police official Suresh Roy said.

Ms Devi had just returned to her house from parliament when several armed men opened fire on her.

She was hit several times in the head.

Parliament was adjourned when news of the killing became public.

There is no indication so far as to the identity of her attackers.

However, the BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi says that she made plenty of enemies during her life as an outlaw in central India.

Legendary life

Born into a poor low-caste family, Phoolan Devi suffered sexual abuse at a young age.

An official points to the spot where Phoolan Devi was killed
A bloodstain marks the spot where Phoolan Devi was shot
She joined a gang of bandits who established a reputation for violent attacks.

She shot to fame in the 1980s when 22 upper-caste men who had allegedly raped her were gunned down in revenge.

Although she denied leading the killers, she surrendered to the police two years later and spent 11 years in prison without trial.

She later became an MP for the Samajwadi Party.


Throughout her life, she captured the imagination of the Indian public.

Her exploits were written about extensively, and her life was later portrayed in the prize-winning film called Bandit Queen.

She herself said she represented those who had been abused by their social superiors.

And her supporters said she always targeted high-caste families and shared the spoils with the lower castes.

However, the Indian authorities say the suggestion that she carried out her campaign of violent robberies in order to benefit the poor is a myth.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"To her many supporters in India, she was a female Robin Hood"
Ambika Nanad Sahi, Times of India in Delhi
"There are many people who believe that it may have been a political conspiracy that killed her"
Poolan Devi International Defence's Vidya Anand
"She wanted to change society in India"
Farrak Dhondy, Commissioning editor of Bandit Queen
"She was a paradoxical figure"
See also:

25 Jul 01 | South Asia
Phoolan Devi: Champion of the poor
29 Jun 01 | South Asia
Indian bandit offers to surrender
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Court rules out caste differences
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
12 Oct 00 | South Asia
Analysis: India's criminal politicians
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