She wants to work for the poor and downtrodden
NEW DELHI: Former bandit Seema Parihar, who ruled the ravines of the Chambal for 18 years before surrendering before a court in 2000, kicked off her political career on Saturday by joining the Indian Justice Party (IJP).
Ms. Parihar is likely to be one of the star campaigners for the IJP during the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year.
Announcing her induction into the party at a press conference here, IJP national president Udit Raj said Ms. Parihar had not entered the world of crime on her own. Also, such people should be given a chance to serve the people.
Ms. Parihar told reporters that she was kidnapped by dacoit Lala Ram in 1983 when she was 13.
She then married Nirbhay Gujjar in 1986, only to join Lala Ram again later. "At the age of 13, one is not aware of what is right and what is wrong. But even since I came to my senses, I wanted to leave the world of crime," she said.
Ms. Parihar was imprisoned for about three years after which she came out and landed a role in the film, Wounded, based on her own life in the ravines. The film won critical acclaim.
Of the 29 cases against her, she had been acquitted in 23 and was on bail in the remaining six, she said. They pertained to kidnapping and attempt to murder. The attempt-to-murder cases were registered against her in connection with encounters with the police.
Ms. Parihar said she was joining politics to work for the poor and the downtrodden. "I got offers from various parties, including the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. I noticed that the IJP was doing a creditable job and, hence, I decided to join it."
Considers Mayawati enemy
BSP's supremo Mayawati, who had been criticising the IJP's initiatives for the betterment of the Dalits, was "her enemy number one," Ms. Parihar said.
According to Ms. Parihar, there were bigger criminals in politics, business and the bureaucracy. "Even a thousand dacoits cannot plunder so much wealth as a single unscrupulous politician, bureaucrat or a businessman," she said. "I will fight such people through political means."
Gandhian Babita Choudhary also joined the IJP. She was with the Harijan Sewak Sangh, and the Akhil Bharatiya Rachnatmak Samaj for 16 years.
She was appointed president of the women's wing of the IJP's Delhi unit.