New Delhi: There was a time when locals of
the coastal town of Porbandar in Gujarat claimed that blood
came out of taps instead of water in the house of former
gangster Santokben Jadeja alias `godmother`.
This is why some found it hard to believe that
62-year-old Santokben died an ordinary death, rather than a
fatal attack on her life, as most had expected her end to be.
She died of cardiac arrest on March 31.
Politicians and policemen who knew her describe the
once-feared gang leader as a determined woman who took up arms
to defend her children after her husband Sarman Munjha was
killed by rival gang members in the early ‘80s.
"However, political parties that supported her openly
in the ‘80s and discreetly in the early ‘90s used her for their
benefit as she had a vice-like grip over legitimate businesses
like real estate, transport and also over limestone smuggling
and extortion from businessmen," said Porbander MLA Arjun
Modhwadia, who has seen the rise and fall of Santokben.
The Congress leader said initially she became the head
of the taluka panchayat after her henchmen allegedly
threatened the party candidates at gunpoint to withdraw their
"Later, she was won the Assembly polls from her
hometown Kutiyana on a Janata Dal-BJP ticket. The first time
that a woman who was dreaded rather than loved won an
election," he said.
Santokben`s life and exploits not only earned her the
nickname `godmother`, it also led to the making of a full
length feature film with the same title starring Shabana Azmi
in the lead role, speaking Gujarati, chewing pan, taking on
men and carrying a double bore gun.