Bravery can win you hearts. In the dusty interiors of the dreaded Chambal ravines it can even win you a dacoit’s respect. Meet 36-year-old housewife Sarjana Singh alias Gudia from Dehradun.
To seek the release of her lecturer husband, abducted while he was returning to his brother’s Greater Noida house from Agra on August 6, Gudia travelled to the land of the dangerous daakus, bargained on the ransom amount and secured her husband’s freedom.
She returned to tell the media that not all dacoits are bad and efforts must be made to bring them back in the mainstream.
“When I met the dacoits, I got nervous and my hands started trembling. But the sardar (gang leader) said I was courageous to have come to a place towards which no woman within a 50-kilometre radius even dared to look,” she said.
He apologised that he’d have to accept the ransom but returned two of her gold earrings and Rs 5,100 asking her to treat it as a ‘gift from a brother to a sister’, she claimed.
"When we reached home on Monday night, he even called us to inquire if we had reached safely,” she said.
Rajesh Bhardwaj, one of the Singhs’ close neighbours from Dehradun, had accompanied Gudia to Agra and then to the outskirts of Chambal. Once there, the outlaws, who were in constant touch with her on the phone, asked her to leave the friend behind.
She was made to walk 7 km on foot to reach the hideout of the dacoits.
"They wanted Rs 10 lakh. But I told them I did not have that much money. I put Rs 43,000 and jewellery in a bag and left for Chambal,” she said.
She had also contacted senior Agra police officials who advised her to heed the dacoits' orders to ensure her husband's early release.
Inspector General of Police, Agra, Vijay Kumar told HT on Tuesday: “The DIG has been keeping track of the kidnappers and their present location is being traced.”
Talking to mediapersons at BSF Society Apartment complex in Greater Noida on Tuesday morning, Gudia also spoke about a dacoit — who was ‘forced to become an outlaw by influential persons who had implicated him in false cases’ — telling her ‘dacoity is a one-way lane and entering the profession is easy, but there is no exit except death’.
“Circumstances have turned them into dacoits. Nobody is a born dacoit. Society and administration should take a lenient view and bring such persons into the mainstream,” she said on Tuesday.
Her husband also said he was treated kindly. “I am a diabetic but the kidnappers allowed me to take my pills. They sympathized with me but said it was their business to earn through kidnappings,” Ajit Singh said.
The couple’s six-year-old son Monark Singh told Hindustan Times: “A call came and mom started weeping. I heard she was talking about kidnapping of my father. I soon went to prayer area in the house and prayed to God for safety of my father. I am glad he is back home safely.”