The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seema, candidate for Phoolan II
- Several parties eye bandit queen successor as poll contestant

Lucknow, Feb. 18: She is 32, has a nine-year-old son and has 37 cases against her, including murders and kidnappings.

And if all goes well, she could run for elections.

Meet Seema Parihar, likely heir to the legacy of the original bandit queen — Phoolan Devi — on both reel and in life.

Politicians in Uttar Pradesh, restless to discover another bandit queen, are eyeing the tall and slim Seema, who is comfortable with all kinds of weapons.

The Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh is believed to be favourably disposed towards her. The local BJP and the CPI have also shown interest. The Congress, too, is not far behind. A Congress leader from Etawah, Samresh Singh, is believed to be busy negotiating with Seema.

Abducted at 13 by a dacoit called Lalaram, raped and then left to fend off the advances of ruthless men in the maze of undulating landscape ruled by multiple gangs, the Thakur girl was married off to a 55-year-old gang leader, Fakkad Baba. The witness to the marriage was another female dacoit, Kusma Nain, a contemporary of Phoolan Devi. Nain, 62, now leads a dacoit gang.

Lalaram was killed in an encounter with police in the mid-nineties and Fakkad died in 1997. It was left to Seema to head the gang. She was only 25 then. Five years later, in 2002, she surrendered.

The police credit her with 37 cases of abductions and brutal murders in Etawah, Kanpur and in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind and Morena. In Madhya Pradesh, trial is yet to begin in the cases against her. Police sources said in most of the cases, trial could not begin because of absence of witnesses.

Seema, who is now in Etawah jail and has obtained bail in almost all the cases, wants to start a life, which, of course, is in politics. “I am tired of weapons,” she has told the police. She wants to take care of her son, who stays with relatives.

But Seema could also make history of sorts if the plan of a film production unit from Mumbai materialises.

The Mumbai team has approached her to act in a film tentatively titled ‘Wounded’. The film will explore life in the ravines from the time of Phoolan.

According to K.C. Mishra, a spokesman of the unit, the mahurat of the film will be held in Etawah on February 29. “This would be the first film which dares to take the challenge of letting a real life character play the reel life role,” Mishra said.

As the filmmakers busied themselves with preparing their ground for a shoot, the interests of the political parties came out in the open. The Samajwadi Party was the first off the block. Party chief Mulayam Singh is learnt to have agreed to inaugurate the mahurat. One of Mulayam Singh’s political secretaries recently visited Etawah and spoke to Seema.

Party sources said Seema might be fielded from the rural Kanpur constituency in which there is a large Thakur presence. “Seema is not Phoolan. However, we believe in the reformation of dacoits, whichever caste they may be hailing from. We are looking into the cases of Seema and studying if she could be a candidate. But we are yet to take a final decision,” said Ramavtar Nayek, a Samajwadi leader in Etawah.

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