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Surreal Delhi

William Dalrymple's City of Djinns, Delhi, has a massive necropolis, historic ruins, exotic bungalows all believed to be haunted by the souls of previous ages. While curiosity about these places abound these stories add to the Capital's local colour. Sarat C Das reports.

delhi Updated: May 13, 2008 18:29 IST
Sarat C Das

Tales of Phoolan's Phantom

The former residence of Phoolan Devi, situated in Ashoka Road of New Delhi, has witnessed the spectre of the bandit queen many times. But the current resident Kailash Meghwal, a former Union minister and veteran MP from Rajastan, vehemently denies these claims. See Video

The high-rise red boundary of this house at Ashoka Road in New Delhi dwarfs the full view of the house. The house is not noticeable for anything that would set it apart from other houses in Ashoka Road.

However, the house has a gory tale. In July 25, 2001, the bandit turned politician Phoolan Devi was shot by assailants in this house while emerging from her car at the gate. Three gunmen pumped six bullets into India's most famous outlaw. The assailants wounded her bodyguard, and escaped in an auto rickshaw. Phoolan succumbed to her wounds. However, neighbours say she returned her home only as a shadow of her former self.

Phoolan Devi's biographer Mala Sen said, "Phoolan had a premonition about her death. She would often tell me that they won't leave her alone, referring to the Thakurs of Behmai. I used to scold her for saying all these things. Later, even she realised that she cannot live in constant fear. Therefore, she chose to lead a normal life."

Following the death of Phoolan Devi, the house was vacant for quite some time and there were some tittle-tattles that it was haunted by the bandit queen. It grew into such an epic story that there were media reports confirming the same. A leading news website even claimed interviewing Deepak, the nephew of current resident Kailash Meghwal, an MP from Rajastan. Deepak said that even after they moved in, neighbours told them that they often spotted Phoolan Devi in the house. They conducted a puja and everything was fine afterward.

However, Kailash Meghwal, vehemently denies these reports. "I never occurred to any such experiences," he said. Meghwal, a former union minister of state for social justice and empowerment in Government of India and a national vice president of Bharatiya Janata Party, now represents Tonk constituency of Rajasthan in 14th Lok Sabha. "I am a bachelor and I don't know any Deepak as my cousin being interviewed by media," Meghwal said.

In Kailash Meghwal's neighbourhood we could not confirm how Phoolan's phantom looks like - a woman clad in beige-color police uniform with a bandoleer of bullets strapped across her chest or a sari clad Phoolan with her stole gathered around her shoulder.