LUCKNOW: The ravines of Chambal are once again booming with the guns of a new ‘Bandit Queen’. Sadhna Patel’s fiefdom ranges from the inhospitable Patha region in Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot district to Satna in bordering Madhya Pradesh.
Daughter of former dacoit Chunnilal Patel, Sadhna was born in a village near Chitrakoot. She crossed over to MP after committing petty crimes, made Satna her abode and made a name through her notoriety. Sadhna now carries a reward of `10,000 on her head in MP for her involvement in kidnappings, extortion, loot and armed robbery.
While the local police and sleuths of anti-bandit unit are busy compiling details of the gang of Sadhna Jiji (as she is commonly known), senior police authorities are coordinating with their Madhya Pradesh counterparts to gather more information about the bandit.
A senior intelligence officer said confidential reports suggest Sadhana is accompanying the MP-based Shivhare dacoit gang. “In fact, a couple of cases are already registered against her in the police stations there.”
Having joined as a junior member, Sadhna rose to lead the gang when its head was killed recently. Being a local, the 30-year-old is well acquainted with the ravines of Chambal and makes good use of the topography in evading arrest and crossing the border at her will to dodge the police of both the states.
“We are maintaining a close vigil in forests of Chitrakoot area to track this new bandit and her gang members. However, we are still verifying her credentials and whether she crossed over from MP to the Patha forest range of Chitrakoot district,” said SP, Chitrakoot, Manoj Kumar Jha
As per the police authorities, Sadhna’s role can’t be ruled out in the last week’s dacoity near Chitrakoot wherein about 150 passengers of the Ganga-Kaveri Express were robbed of their valuables in the dead of night. In the neighbouring state, she and her gang members have cases registered against them under the Arms Act and the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Dacoity Act.
Among the infamous bandit queens was late Phoolan Devi, who became a terror after massacring 20 upper caste men in Behmai in February 1981 to avenge her gang rape by the Thakurs.
Now, old-timers fear the way Sadhna has been unleashing criminal acts, she will leave far behind the likes of Phoolan, Seema Parihar, Kusma Nain, Sarla Jatav, and Lovely Pandey.
The original legend
A fearsome gun-wielding dacoit, rape survivor and two-time MP, Phoolan Devi was a firebrand. Her revenge in the form of the Behmai massacre in Uttar Pradesh had shaken India.