Dysfunctional families, sexual abuse, sheer greed and sometimes just a skewed moral compass. These are some of the triggers that drove the women captured in these pages to become lawbreakers.
Queens of Crime demonstrates a haunting criminal power that most people do not associate women with. The acts of depravity described in this book will jolt you to the core, ensuring you have sleepless nights for months.
Based on painstaking research, these are raw, violent and seemingly unbelievable but true rendition of India’s women criminals.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter!
The Drug Queen Of Mumbai
Back in Siddharth Nagar, her sons on either side, she wondered which door to knock on first. Four of her five brothers were married and living in their own rooms. She decided to stay in the room of her brother who was serving time in jail for murder. Two of her other brothers had served jail sentences for the same murder, but they were out now. Another brother, who had been arrested initially but had had nothing to do with the crime, had committed suicide in jail in protest.
She knocked on the door, the awkwardness of the moment weighing her down. The door, which led to a small eight-by-eight- foot room, was opened by her brother’s wife, Sumiti.
‘Didi! What a pleasant surprise! Welcome,’ her sister-in law greeted her and pulled the children into an embrace. She had been married for just a few months and didn’t have any children of her own.
Sumiti was quick to realize that something was amiss. After serving them tea, she said, ‘Didi, I’m with you. You don’t have to say anything.’
Her affection brought tears to Shantidevi’s eyes. ‘Thank you.’
The next morning, her sister-in-law left the house early, before Shantidevi woke up. But she had prepared a kadai full of poha for the three of them. Shantidevi woke her children up, helped them bathe outside using the bucket of water that had been kept ready for them, and then all of them ate gratefully.
That evening, Shantidevi asked her sister-in-law, ‘Can I get work here?’
Sumiti nodded. ‘I’ve already spoken to a lady in one of the apartment complexes not far from here. She will give you two hundred rupees for two hours. I’ll get you more houses to work in within a week.’
Shantidevi thanked her again. She was grateful because now she could earn her own money. It was the economic empowerment that she needed.
Soon, Shantidevi was working in three houses and was able to move into her own room in the same chawl. Now that she was earning Rs 600, she could hire a room for Rs 300. Her life was unremarkable for the next year. She was barely able to make ends meet with the meagre salary that
she earned. Her husband never bothered to check if she was all right. He was so heartless, thought Shantidevi, that he didn’t even inquire about the children. The lack of money started to pinch her. But what could an uneducated woman like her do?
One day, something unexpected happened. As she was walking back home along the Worli Sea Face after work, she felt weak and decided to stop for a few minutes at a bus stop nearby to catch her breath. She sat on the metal bench, held the pillar for support and closed her eyes. It is just weakness, she thought, and will pass soon. It did, and after a minute or so when she opened her eyes, she found that a man seated at the far end of the bench was staring at her.
She was about to give him a mouthful to nip whatever he had in his mind in the bud, but the man spoke first, ‘Sister, the world can be cruel. Are you feeling better now?’
His voice calmed her down, as did the fact that he had addressed her as ‘sister’. She nodded and wondered if she should get up and be on her way.
But before she could, the man spoke again, ‘And in Mumbai, there is only one god. Do you know who that is?’
He laughed and then, his face turning serious, said, ‘No, the real god is money, cash, rupiya.’
The man was crazy, thought Shantidevi.
‘If you have the money, everything is great. But if you don’t have the money, you live the life of an insect in this city.’
A grasshopper flew out of nowhere and landed near his feet. The man raised his Kolhapuri chappal and stamped on it. ‘This guy here had no money, so I ended his life.’
She smiled for the first time. The man was right. She said, ‘But for money you need an education. Insects are uneducated.’
‘Says who? What if I told you that the man who lives on the tenth floor of this building,’ he paused and pointed towards a posh building behind them before continuing, ‘in flat number 1002, is uneducated and yet he is rich.’
‘That’s a lie.’
‘That’s not a lie, sister. I work for that man, which is why I know.’
Shantidevi got up and walked towards him. She sat on a bench three feet from him, saying, ‘How is that even possible, brother? Tell me about him.’
Little did Shantidevi know that this conversation would change her life.
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