DACOITY AND ITS CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE by Pulkit khanduja & Lakshay Kumar.

Tracing back the history of Dacoits in India we should go back to the Fifth Century when the Tribes descended into the Indian Peninsula to make their homes here.

During ancient era robbery and Dacoity were on the topmost list of the crimes which were committed. Crimes like these mainly occurred one on the countryside and the other on the seaside as different villagers who used to look up for job usually travelled in different regions because of which it would become easy to loot them when they are far away or in a place which is away from where they live. The areas which had water near them or were part of water  like West Bengal people use waterways travels to travel from one place to other or the transportation of goods used to take place through water ways these accumulated Dacoity and robbery as it would happen simply and would result in the killing of hundreds.

Taking in consideration the Dacoity which used to happen over water was done by Pirates. It would comprise gathering of 20-30 which used to happen over a lightweight boat which was easy to move and because of its structure could withstand numerous individuals no problem at all. By the efforts of the government which led to the eradication of the pirates and appointed a group of people who would look after any illegal activities happening in the sea. Today no clue of these can be seen. In the older time sea raiders used to carry out their loot’s by travelling in the same sailboat in which others used to go as passengers. Some of the Sea Raiders like the Sandaar and Goaynaa groups were well-known. Numerous lords and Big Zamindars happened to take assistance of these people during the crisis time. Landowners & royal home situated near sea sides had emptied their homes to protect themselves from dacoity. The Pirates and the land dacoits were extremely powerful at that time. Landowners had to settle yearly assessments and Pirates got respect like pioneers from the lords. After the coming up of the English Rule they became more dangerous, and then started plundering the famous and big Zamindars and offered offer to Britisher’s. one thing which was unique and different was that whenever these people plundered the villages, they never used to loot the Weaker sections they always focused on the Stronger sections and the Richer Sections of the society. Their trademark was “hunt yet rhino, plunder the treasury.

During the Independence of India emergence of new crimes were seen. People started following the acts of crimes which were followed in the West. The largest sections of crimes were committed by the Dacoits. They used to operate in rural area and used to fight in open unlike the others who used to fight in ruse.

The Dacoits in order to survive were always in search of food and used to raid up villages and other places which used to come in their way when they required supplies. These people used to distribute the surplus among the poor villagers just to create good will in the eyes of the people and never the less they never required the use of cash when they were away or were between two raids.

During the course of time many dacoits rose into good Raja and Rani on the other hand some Raja and Rani turned into Dacoits. Raja Man Singh is regarded as the king of dacoits as he was accountable for several murders. He was assisted by the locals he was evading from the British and other Post-Independence Indian Authority.

After the Death of Man Singh Putli Bai known as the Daku Rani was born in the Chambal Valley, because of her good voice Dacoit Sultana took her into the ravines of the Chambal Valley. After the death of Sultana Pulti formed alliances with the Dacoit Kalla Gujar as a bandit.

Taking in consideration the Dacoity which used to happen over water was done by Pirates. It would comprise gathering of 20-30 which used to happen over a lightweight boat which was easy to move and because of its structure could withstand numerous individuals no problem at all. By the efforts of the government which led to the eradication of the pirates and appointed a group of people who would look after any illegal activities happening in the sea. Currently no hint of them can be found.

Whenever they thought of carrying out any loot, they first used to venerate their lords for wins. The custom of fight was shielded elephants would crash through all hindrances and perils with their immense bodies chariots and mounted force and this fight system was powerful on the hard ground and uneven landscape of any part of India.

After several research it came to be known that most of these people came after the beginning of Britisher’s Reign and were those who were not given job or were rejected for jobs. The Big Landowners were independent and had support and power of the Government of that time. The Landowners had all the powers. Later during that time Posts had been given to the people according to the works and skills they possessed because of which the power which were vested in the hand of the Big and Powerful Landowners got reduced. lathials teamed up with the Daciots helping them in carrying out their work. Disgraceful Soldiers from crooked clans becomes dacoits and a few dacoits accumulated and announced. Gaurey Bedey and Raghu Dakar both lived in Halisahar Parganas of 24 Parganas. People who lives nearby even today still accept the fact that treasures which are found there are covered by dacoits only. Villagers who used to live in faraway villages and used to visit other villagers in search of work were afraid to travel because of terror of dying by the hands of these people. Indeed, Still Today stories of these people like the gaariyaa dacoits “Kali‟ can be heard in Villages. These people used to come and eat food with any the Big Landowners, they used to take less salt for nourishment and they realized that great relations won’t proceed always with Zamindars. In the Present time dacoits who are involved in stealing gems and killing the individuals even rape them or hurt them grievously during Dacoity. Current dacoits at time execution harm both men and women indiscriminately which was not prevalent in the older days. Surprisingly, in the present time too they use weapons which were prevalent in the older days for looting like paddy-husking pedal. This husking pedal is executed of husking paddy. It well may be found in all homes irrespective whether they are the stronger section of the village or the weaker section. In older Europe, fighters also used these kinds of instrument while committing Dacoity. During committing their Dacoity gangs would shout which would help them with assistance and would effectively enter into the houses. While doing dacoity they would carry with themselves torches and staves and tie up children and then start snatching ornaments from women’s body. When they had to dacoit they used to plan and gave signals to each other like animal Jackal did. These groups of the olden time were Thugis and Pindaris were seen. Whenever they used to theft the people who used to travel for work from on village to another and stole their cash and possessions. For reducing these crimes new provisions were added in the law.

After the Dacoity which used to happen through Pirate and by Looting villagers who used to travel from one Village to another in search of work and shelter etc. a new type or a new trend of dacoity started which  used to happen which was called Railway Robbery in which a gang of dacoits used to travel or take rides in the train and used to pull up the Emergency Chain in a deserted place. Later they would run away after they are done plundering Ornaments from the travelers.

Md Imamuddin and Anr. versus State of Bihar [1], this case was for the reduction of punishment which is given for dacoity. The accused were charged for the offence of looting in a running track. All the people who were accused of committing this crime were given burdensome detainment, however during the course of trial they were under jail and when they were pronounced guilty by that time most of them had been in jail for more than half time of the prescribed punishment and thus their punishment was  reduced to 2 years


Dacoity can be defined as when five individuals co-commonly commit or try to present a thievery and individuals present are supporting such commission or attempt, is said to submit Dacoity.

Section 391 of the IPC characterizes theft as when at any rate 5 or more than 5 together carry out theft or try to carry out theft, or where the whole number of individuals together committing or trying to present thievery, and individuals presence and helping such delegation or try, indicate in any event five, every individual so committing, trying or supporting, is said to commit “dacoity”.


  • Commission or Endeavor to commit robbery.
  • Persons committing or endeavoring must not be under five.
  • All people ought to have acted conjointly


Section 391: Dacoity: As per this section the crime of Dacoity is committed when the numbers of people who are involved are five or more than five. Second part of this section deals with all the persons who help in the commitment of the offence of Dacoity and as per the section all these people would be counted as attempting or aiding to commit the offence of Dacoity and all will be punished.

Section 395: Punishment for Dacoity:  As per this section anyone found committing the offence of Dacoity then he will be punished with either simple detainment or rigorous detainment with a maximum limit of 10 years along with a fine.

Section 396: Dacoity with Murder:  For booking a person under this section it is necessary that one of the 5 people while doing the act of Dacoity must also commit murder. While doing so all the other person would be liable for the offence of murder as well

Section 397: Robbery or Dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt: As per this section if any person while engaged in the act of Dacoity uses any weapon which is deadly in nature and because of that it causes grievous hurt or attempt to cause murder then that person would be punished with imprisonment of  minimum seven years

Section 398: Attempt to Commit Robbery or Dacoity When Armed with Fatal Weapons: According to this section if any person accompanying the offence of Dacoity is in possession of a weapon that is harmful to life then that person would be punished with imprisonment which should be less than seven years.

Section 399: Making Preparations to Commit Dacoity: As per this section preparation to commit dacoity is also punishable which may extend to 10 years along with a fine

Section 400: Punishment for Belonging to Gang of Dacoits: The following section makes it punishable to even be a part of any group engaged in the act of dacoity, and if found then that person would be punished with either life imprisonment or rigorous imprisonment extending up to 10 years

Section 402: Assembling for Purpose for Committing Dacoity: The stricter provision for the offence of Dacoity is proved by this section as per which gathering or grouping of people who are minimum of 5 person have gathered together for carrying out dacoity shall face imprisonment which is rigorous in nature and which may extend up to 7 years .


Both the offence of Robbery and Dacoity are different as they are categorized as different offences under the IPC. The first difference between the two concepts is as follows-:

  1. Robbery can be either theft or extortion whereas Dacoity is committed when 5 or more person commit Robbery.
  2. In Robbery the Quantity of people committing the offence must below five while in Dacoity the minimum no of people required is five, if they are to be booked under the offence of Dacoity.
  3. Offence of Robbery is tried by a magistrate of First class where as dacoity is tried by Sessions Court.
  4. Nature of punishment in both the offences also highlights the difference between both the concepts, Colonial rulers considered Dacoity to be more serious offence and that is why the punishment for it goes up to death whereas in Robbery the maximum punishment is up to fourteen years.
  5. Dacoity per se as an offence is not punishable however Robbery in itself is an offence under IPC.


[1] Criminal Appeal (SJ) No.275 of 2000

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