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Gulabi gang makes men in khaki run for cover

THEY HAVE given up hearth to weed out corruption and the corrupt. The result is: the cops whose name spawn fear are running for cover.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2006 01:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

THEY HAVE given up hearth to weed out corruption and the corrupt. The result is: the cops whose name spawn fear are running for cover.

But they’re neither mafiosi nor terrorists. They’re simply a group of women belonging to Banda district of Bundelkhand, known for its ravines and dacoits. The members of this gang wear pink sarees and call themselves Gulabi Gang. They have taken a pledge to root out corruption.

The Banda district administration is so afraid of the gang that they have registered cases, allegedly fake ones, against its members and their commander Sampat Pal. She encourages men and women, deprived of their rights, to hold rallies, stage demonstration and if needed, gherao the officers, seeking justice.

Formed merely four months ago, the gang is giving sleepless nights to the administration which is bent on declaring the outfit an illegal organisation.

A few days back, the Gulabi Gang volunteers intercepted a tractor-trolley that was allegedly carrying food grains meant for distribution among the poor through a fair price shops. The food grain, the gang members alleged, was being smuggled by a fair price shop-owner Ramavtar. He was planning to sell it in the black market.

The district administration seized the food grain under pressure from the gang but no case was registered against Ramavtar. The angry gang members then gheraoed the Attara Police station demanding action against the guilty but nothing happened to Ramavtar.

Later, the gang members manhandled the officials present at the police station and accused them of being hand in glove with the unscrupulous traders.

However, the police registered cases against the Gulabi Gang under various sections accusing them of creating hurdles in discharging duty by the police officials.

RK Pal, who supports the gang from behind the curtain, is the son-in-law of Sampat Pal. Talking to HT on the phone from Banda on Friday night, Pal said that the gang was actually a front organisation of a society that was helping the poor and the downtrodden.

The gang members not only keep a watch on the underhand dealings of officials but also try to fight against injustice.

“Afraid of exposure of their misdeeds, the officials are levelling personal allegations against the Gulabi Gang and its commander,” said R K Pal.

He claimed that the gang was becoming very popular in Banda and its adjoining areas. This was evident from the fact that hundreds of people, other than the gang members, gathered at the police station to support the gang.

However, a police officer of the district said that the gang was taking law into their hands and it could not be tolerated. He confirmed that cases, including that of unlawful assembly and threatening the police personnel had been registered against the gang members at the Attara police station and action would be taken after investigation.

“Why does she avoid meeting senior officers of the district administration who had assured her of solving all the problems?” the officer asked.

A Banda police officer commented that the gang commander belonged to Chitrakoot and ran an NGO. As she had nothing to do, she was creating nuisance, he added.

First Published: Aug 19, 2006 01:13 IST