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Dacoity is a term used for "banditry" in Hindi, Kannada 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). 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 were enacted in British India under East India Company rule. Areas with ravines or forests, such as Chambal and 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).
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. The dacoity have had a large impact in the Morena and Chambal regions.
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 Roopa Pandit committed over 1,000 armed robberies, 185 murders, and many ransom kidnappings between 1939 and 1955. He was involved in 90 police encounters and killed 32 police officers.
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. He was active for a period of years in an area covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
In Madhya Pradesh State, women belonging to a village defence group have been issued firearm 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.
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). 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.
Repentant dacoits armed with pistols are trainable units available to the player in Age of Empires III: Asian Dynasties.
- HereThe genesis of dacoity [armed robbery by a gang] in Chambal valley [north-central India] has been a popular theme too (Bhaduri, 1972; Khan, 1981; Jatar, 1980; Katare, 1972). Again, most explanations have simply suggested feudal exploitation as the cause that provoked many people of this region to take to arms. The fact that many gangs operating in this valley were composed of higher castes and wealthy people appears to suggest that feudalism may only be a partial explanation of dacoity in Chambal valley. (Defined by Arvind Verma, in Jul-Dec 2008) "Anglo-Indian" refers to the language, or linguistic usage. See Yule, Henry and Burnell, Arthur Coke (1886) Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive J. Murry, London; reprinted 1903; see page page 290 of the 1903 edition for "dacoit".
- 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.
- Staff (5 September 1955) "India: Dead Man" Time magazine
- Austa, Sanjay (23 August 2003) "Daku Raja becomes devta" The Sunday Tribune Spectrum section
- "Veerappan, the man behind 124 murders". Hindustan Times. 2002.
- "'Treasure hunt' for bandit's loot". BBC News. October 22, 2004. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- "The 'Last Lion of Chambal' gunned down by police". www.southasianpost.com. September 20, 2005.[dead link]
- "Indian Women Granted Gun Permits to Fend Off Armed Robbers" LearnAboutGuns.com
- "THE REAL LIFE HERO". Screen (magazine). Jun 6, 2008.
- 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.
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