The Legend of Daku Man Singh-a Veritable Robin Hood
Daku Man Singh was a famous dacoit, but with a difference as he looked after the poor
A dreaded Dacoit
The Chambal is a small area in the heartland of India edging into the states of Utter Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. For Centuries it was a backward area which saw very little development. The area itself is criss -crossed by hills and ravines that prove excellent cover for dacoit gangs. At the start of the last century a number of dacoit gangs proliferated. These gangs carried out all sorts of crimes from murder, dacoity to kidnapping.
One of the most famous dacoits or in Hindi parlance “Daku’ was Man Singh . He ruled the roost in this area from 1939-55, till the Madhya Pradesh government had to induct a troop of the Gurkha regiment to track and kill him.
Man Singh as Robin Hood
From all accounts Man Singh was a dreaded dacoit. During his reign he committed nearly 185 murders and in 90 encounters with the Police accounted for 33 of their personnel . But Man Singh was a dacoit with a difference. He is reported to have never raped anybody and generally respected women. In addition he was also a philanthropist and gave money to the needy and poor. He was also highly religious and gave money generously as donation to temples all over the region.
Even now after his death there is a temple at Khera Rathore in the Chambal valley that does not house any of the Hindu Gods, but has the idols of Man Singh and his wife as Gods. People come to this temple and pray.This is one of the rare cases where a Dacoit has a temple dedicated to him. It is certainly worth a visit.
The Death of Man Singh
The Death of Man Singh
The local police because of informers and lack of will was unable to combat the Daku Man Singh. As the rule of law had collapsed the Madhya Pradesh Government requested the Central Government for some Gurkha troops to tackle Man Singh. Accordingly a troop of Gurkhas led by Babbar Singh Thapa were able to kill the Dacoit after a fierce but short encounter in 1955. Babbar Singh died in anonymity in 1993 , but at that time he received a cash award of 1000 from the MP government and medal from the President of India.
Daku Man Singh was an enigma. At one end he committed dacoties and murders and the other end of the spectrum he gave alms to the poor and donated liberally to the temples. This dichotomy was prevalent in all the older dacoits. But over the years this changed and the new breed of dacoits lusted for wine, money and girls.
Man Singh has now become a legend. Many tales are told of his valor and bravery. May be some are true , but the fact that he was a criminal cannot be obviated. The Chambal ravines are changed, there is development and the age old dacoit gangs are no longer there. It was indeed the Indian Wild West that has now become a bygone age.