Dacoity is a term used for "banditry" in India. The spelling is the anglicized version of the Hindi word and as a colloquial Anglo-Indian word with this meaning, also 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 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 Bangla ḍakat (ডাকাত).

In Hindi Dacoity (Hindi: डकैती ḍakaitī, Urdu: ڈکیتی ḍakaitī, Bengali: ডাকাতি ḍakati) means "armed robbery".

The term Dacoit (Hindi: डकैत ḍakait, Urdu: ڈکیت ḍakait, Bengali: ডাকাত ḍakat) 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 legendary 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.

Famous dacoits

The most infamous dacoit was probably India's Phoolan Devi[2] who authored an autobiography of her life. The movie, Bandit Queen, released in 1994, was based on her life. But the title of the most legendary dacoit is held by Daku Man Singh. Between 1939 and 1955, Daku Man Singh had notched over 1,000 armed robberies, 185 murders, and countless ransom kidnappings.[3] He was involved in 90 police encounters and had killed 32 policemen.[4]

More recently, dacoit Veerappan of Tamil Nadu state evaded authorities for decades until he was shot dead in 2004.[5][6] He was active for a period of years in a broad swathe of land covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Chambal dacoit Nirbhay Singh Gujjar achieved national renown before being killed in 2005.[7] The most infamous dacoit was Sultana Daku in district Bijnor.

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 district, 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]

In popular culture

As the dacoits flourished through the 1950s-1970s, they were theme was several films made in the era, starting 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) had the character of Gabbar Singh played by Amjad Khan. Sholay became a classic in the genre, and its success lead to a surge in films in this genre, 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 the same year came, Jagga Dakubased on a noted outlaw and dacoit during British Raj, Jagga Daku.

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.

See also


  1. ^ Here "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".
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Staff (5 September 1955) "India: Dead Man" Time magazine
  4. ^ Austa, Sanjay (23 August 2003) "Daku Raja becomes devta" The Sunday Tribune Spectrum section
  5. ^ "Veerappan, the man behind 124 murders". Hindustan Times. 2002. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/veer/rise1.html. 
  6. ^ "'Treasure hunt' for bandit's loot". BBC News. October 22, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3943969.stm. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The 'Last Lion of Chambal' gunned down by police". www.southasianpost.com. Tue, September 20, 2005. http://www.southasianpost.com/portal2/ff8080810ec3b59f010ec3d055ad00bb.do.html. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Indian Women Granted Gun Permits to Fend Off Armed Robbers" LearnAboutGuns.com
  9. ^ "THE REAL LIFE HERO". Screen (magazine). Jun 06, 2008. http://www.screenindia.com/news/THE-REAL-LIFE-HERO/318575/. 

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 978-0002720663.
  • G. K. Betham, The Story of a Dacoity, and the Lolapaur Week: An Up-Country Sketch. BiblioBazaar, 2008. ISBN 0559473699.
  • 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

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • dacoity — da*coit y, n. The practice of gang robbery in India; robbery committed by dacoits. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dacoity — [də koit′ē] n. pl. dacoities [Hindi ḍākāitī: see DACOIT] robbery by dacoits …   English World dictionary

  • dacoity — /deuh koy tee/, n., pl. dacoities. (in India and Burma) gang robbery; robbery by dacoits. Also, dakoity. [1810 20; < Hindi dakaiti, deriv. of dakait DACOIT] * * * …   Universalium

  • dacoity — noun Gang robbery carried out by dacoits …   Wiktionary

  • dacoity — n. (in India and Burma) robbery or other violent crime committed by a gang of organized criminals …   English contemporary dictionary

  • dacoity — da·coity …   English syllables

  • dacoity — da•coit•y [[t]dəˈkɔɪ ti[/t]] n. pl. coit•ies raj robbery carried out by dacoits • Etymology: 1810–20; < Hindi ḍakaitī, der. of ḍakait dacoit …   From formal English to slang

  • dacoity — /dæˈkɔɪti/ (say da koytee) noun (plural dacoities) Indian English robbery by an armed gang; banditry. {Hindi ḍakaitī} …   Australian English dictionary

  • dacoity — (India.) A robbery committed by a hand composed of five or more persons …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • dacoity — noun robbery by a gang of armed dacoits • Syn: ↑dakoity • Regions: ↑India, ↑Republic of India, ↑Bharat, ↑Myanmar, ↑Union of Burma, ↑Burma • …   Useful english dictionary

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