Phoolan Devi to Contest
From News Dispatches
LUCKNOW (Reuters) -- India's former bandit queen Phoolan Devi is to contest coming general elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, party officials said on March 31.
Devi will run for office from Mirzapur, a famous carpet manufacturing region near the holy Hindu pilgrimage town of Varanasi, an official said.
The socialist Janata Dal has forged an electoral alliance with Samajwadi in Uttar Pradesh.
The former bandit queen has promised to put an end to the use of child labor in manufacturing of carpets.
``I will see to it that abuse of children in this manner is stopped once and for all,'' she said. ``I wish to fight against the exploitation of women and other weaker sections of the society,'' said Devi, who belongs to the low-caste Mallah community of professional oarsmen.
Uttar Pradesh is a politically crucial state as it elects 85 lawmakers to the lower house of parliament. Elections to the 543 seats of Lok Sabha are set to begin on April 27.
Devi has in recent months been at the center of a storm over a film based on her life. The movie, ``Bandit Queen,'' has won critical acclaim but is banned in India for its excessive nudity and explicit rape scenes.
Devi shot to notoriety after 22 upper-caste men were killed in a massacre at Behmai village in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state in 1981.
She was accused of leading a gang in the massacre, but she denied the murder charges. She surrendered to police in 1983 and spent more than 10 years in remand.