Phoolan Devi was born to a low-caste family, endured rape and torture, went on to kill the men who hurt her and harbored her enemies, and then was elected to Parliament. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that many thought of her as an incarnation of Durga, a warrior goddess.
She was born on Aug. 10, 1963, in a small rural village. She was married at the age of 11 to a man in his 30s, and there are varying stories of what happened to her next. She was raped and abused by her husband, but Phoolan Devi managed to escape, to survive, and years later, to join a band of dacoits, a gang of rebels and armed robbers. She would ultimately lead this band.
When she was 18, a rival gang attacked her group, holding her hostage for weeks and brutally raping her.
But Phoolan Devi would have her revenge.
Phoolan Devi (Photo by India Today)
On July 25, 2001, she was shot and killed by three masked men who were never caught, though it is suspected that they acted in the name of vengeance for Behmai.
Phoolan Devi is remembered as a powerful public speaker, a woman of unerring instinct, a cunning and charming politician, a leader, and a survivor.