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Title: Dacoit  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Phoolan Devi, Robbery, Outlaw, List of English words of Hindi or Urdu origin, Amrita Pritam, Doga (comics), Wuntho, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Sucha Soorma
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Dacoity is a term used for "banditry" in Hindi and Urdu. The spelling is the anglicized version of the Hindi word and as a colloquial Anglo-Indian word with this meaning, it appears in the Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1903).[1] Banditry is criminal activity involving robbery by groups of armed bandits. The East India company established the Thuggee and Dacoity Department in 1830, and the Thuggee and Dacoity Suppression Acts, 1836–1848 was enacted in British India under East India Company rule. Areas with ravines or forests, like Chambal, Chilapata Forests were once known for dacoits.


The word "dacoity" is the anglicized version of the Hindustani word ḍakaitī (historically spelled dakaitee, Hindi डकैती or Urdu ڈکیتی or Bengali ডাকাতি) which comes from ḍākū (historically spelled dakoo, Hindi: डाकू, Urdu: ڈاکو, meaning "armed robber") or Bengali ḍakat (ডাকাত).

In Urdu, ḍākū ڈاکو is singular and ḍakait ڈکیت plural for bandits. The crime of banditry is known as dakaitee ڈکیتی.

In Hindi dacoity (Hindi: डकैती ḍakaitī, Urdu: ڈکیتی ḍakaitī, Bengali: ডাকাতি ḍakati) means "armed robbery". In Tamilnadu, the crime of banditry is known as "Dakalti".

The term dacoit (Hindi: डकैत ḍakait, Urdu: ڈکیت ḍakait, Bengali: ডাকাত ḍākāt ) means "a bandit", according to OED ("A member of a class of robbers in India and Burma, who plunder in armed bands.") Dacoits existed in Burma as well as India, and Rudyard Kipling's fictional Private Mulvaney was hunting Burmese "dacoits" in The Taking of Lungtungpen. Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu also employed Burmese dacoits as his henchmen. The term was also applied, according to OED, to "pirates who formerly infested the Ganges between Calcutta and Burhampore".

"Known Dacoit" (K.D.) is a term used by the Indian police forces to classify criminals. There was a great impact of dacoity in the Morena and Chambal region.


India's Phoolan Devi[2] authored an autobiography and the movie Bandit Queen, released in 1994, was based on her life.

Dadua was one of the most infamous dacoit in U.P. and M.P. having very strong political links. His son Veer Sing is a MLA and brother Bal Kumar patel is MP. his nephew Ram Singh is also a MLA.

Daku Man Singh committed over 1,000 armed robberies, 185 murders, and many ransom kidnappings between 1939 and 1955.[3] He was involved in 90 police encounters and killed 32 police officers.[4]

Daku Paan Singh Tomar was another infamous dacoit in Chambal. He became an international athlete after retirement. Paan Singh Tomar became so infamous that the government had to call up around 10,000 men from BSF, CRPF and state police in an attempt to capture him. Other famous well known dacoits are Jagga Jatt and Sucha Singh Soorma from Punjab.

Veerappan evaded authorities for decades until he was shot and killed in 2004.[5][6] He was active for a period of years in an area covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Chambal dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar achieved national infamy before being killed in 2005.[7]

Other infamous dacoits were Sultana Daku in the Bijnor district, and Dhira, mostly active in present Amritsar, particularly in the Majitha area.

Protection measures

In Madhya Pradesh State, women belonging to a village defence group have been issued gun permits to fend off dacoity. The chief minister of the state, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, recognized the role the women had played in defending their villages without guns. He stated that he wanted to enable these women to better defend both themselves and their villages, and issued the gun permits to advance this goal.[8]

Popular culture

As the dacoits flourished through the 1950s-1970s, they were the subject of several films made during this era, beginning with Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Raj Kapoor’s Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960), and Sunil Dutt's classic, Mujhe Jeene Do (1963).[9] Other films in this genre were, Khote Sikkay (1973), Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), and Kuchhe Dhaage (1973) both by Raj Khosla, the latter inspired the blockbuster, Sholay (1975) where the character of Gabbar Singh was played by Amjad Khan. Sholay became a classic in the genre, and its success lead to a surge in films in this genre, including Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978) once again with Amitabh Bachchan, and Amjad Khan.

Punjabi biopic Jatt Jeona Morh about the noted dacoit Jatt Jeona Morh was made in 1991; also in that same year came, Jagga Daku based on a noted outlaw and dacoit during the British Raj, Jagga Daku.

A Hindi novel पैंसठ लाख की डकैती (Painstth Lakh ki Dacoity, 1977) was written by Surender Mohan Pathak; it was translated as The 65 Lakh Heist.

Repentant dacoits armed with pistols are trainable units available to the player in Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasties.

See also


Further reading

  • Phoolan Devi, with Marie-Therese Cuny, and Paul Rambali, The Bandit Queen of India: An Indian Woman's Amazing Journey from Peasant to International Legend Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2006 ISBN 978-1-59228-641-6
  • Mala Sen, India's Bandit Queen: The true Story of Phoolan Devi, HarperCollins Publishers (September 1991) ISBN 978-0-00-272066-3.
  • G. K. Betham, The Story of a Dacoity, and the Lolapaur Week: An Up-Country Sketch. BiblioBazaar, 2008. ISBN 0-559-47369-9.
  • Shyam Sunder Katare, Patterns of dacoity in India: a case study of Madhya Pradesh. S. Chand, 1972.
  • Mohammad Zahir Khan, Dacoity in Chambal Valley. National, 1981.

External links

  • As modern world closes in, India's fabled bandits are disappearing - International Herald Tribunefr:Dacoït

hi:डकैती sv:Dacoit ur:ڈکیتی

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