Ninety-year-old Pancham Singh, once a dreaded dacoit of Chambal, decided to live the life of a normal person and surrendered to the government of Indira Gandhi in 1972.
He joined Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariya Vidyalaya, where he was called Brahma Kumar Pancham Singh.
Interacting with the crowd during a visit to the Mangalore centre of Ishwariya Vidyalaya on Sunday, he shared the chilling story of his life.
Pancham Singh was from Singpura village in Bhind district in Madhya Pradesh. During the panchayat election, there were two groups in the village.
Despite being innocent, a group of 12 people attacked him leaving him with severe injuries.
“When I recovered, I decided to become a dacoit to take revenge. I joined a gang of dacoits led by Mohar Singh and killed all the 12 people,” he said.
“I used to lead a gang of 550 dacoits and the government had declared `2 crore bounty on our heads. During my 14 years as a dacoit, I have snuffed out 100 lives. Kidnapping, extortion and robberies were just routine affairs for me. However, most of the money we looted was given to the poor and needy,” Singh claimed.
He said the dramatic twist in his life came after he surrendered, inspired by Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan.
Though Pancham was sentenced to death after trial, it was later commuted to life imprisonment after Narayan appealed to the President of India. Highlighting the importance of unity among the people, Singh said: “When I was a dacoit leader, there was unity among us. It helped us form a strong group. However, there is no unity in our country now, which is the root cause of problems.”
He also said meditation and spiritual classes with his sisters in Prajapita Vidyalaya made him change.
“The sisters showed me the way of life. Observing my spiritual leaning, I was released from jail in 1980. Now I interact with students and jail inmates and try to show them the proper path,” he added.