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Red daughters of revolution

That women and bloodshed are no strangers has been proved many times in Chambal's rugged ravines.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 04:56 IST

That women and bloodshed are no strangers has been proved many times in Chambal's rugged ravines. But while the Phoolan Devis took up arms for revenge, another breed of women is taking on the law in Madhya Pradesh for a less personal cause: revolution.

Tough, resolute and ruthless, women Naxalites are on top of the police's wanted list in the rebel strongholds.

There are other differences with the bandit queens. While the riveting stories of women dacoits have even become part of Bollywood lore, these ideologically-driven women are the enemy unknown. They live shadowy lives-- so much so that the police are unsure of their names or faces. In the thick forests of Balaghat and neighbouring districts in eastern parts of the state bordering Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, the women risk their lives to realise the dream of an independent Dandakaranya state. Deadly attacks on class enemies like the police and landlords are the signatures they leave behind.

For example, Basanta alias Sheela heads the list with a reward of Rs 1.20 lakh on her head. A prominent member of the Malajkhand dalam (unit), Basantha's name strikes terror in mineral-rich Balaghat district. She has had numerous close calls with police and is wanted for murderous assaults, arson and other crimes. The police do not even have her photograph.

Sumitra carries a 12-bore rifle and heads the extremists of Paraswada dalam. The price on her head: Rs 50,000.

Meera is an active member of Tanda dalam and carries a reward of Rs 15,000 on her head. Sunanda and Ramvati alias Indra are also wanted Naxalites. The third dalam active in the region is Paraswada Dalam and its member Renuka alias Bujjijalma carries a reward of Rs 50,000.

A senior police officer pointed out, "The high reward on the head of the women outlaws is owing to their participation in criminal activities for long."

First Published: Feb 07, 2006 04:56 IST