Phoolan Devi (10 August 1963 – 26 July 2001), popularly known as Bandit Queen, was an Indian bandit and later a Member of Parliament.
Born into a poor family in rural Uttar Pradesh, Phoolan endured poverty, child marriage and had an abusive 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 caste difference, caused a gunfight between gang members. Phoolans lover was killed in that gunfight. The victorious rival faction, who were Rajputs, took Phoolan who was to their village of Behmai, confined her in a room, and took turns to rape her repeatedly over several weeks. After escaping, Phoolan rejoined the remnants of her dead lovers faction who were gangs of Mallaah, 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 Phoolans gang. Her victims were men who were known to have previously repeatedly gang raped her.
Her act of revenge - the Behmai massacre was potrayed by the press as an act of righteous rebellion. 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 48 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.