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The ornate doorway of an old mansion in Sirmathura, Madhya Pradesh, is a reminder of historic inequities. Discontent under India's feudal land system may have sparked dacoit crimes, but the violence soon became far more complicated.
"I was a rebel. I fought injustice," says former dacoit Malkhan Singh, 76, who lives in Gwalior. He sleeps with a rifle "for my protection."
A priest at a remote Hindu temple in the Chambal hills of northern India scans the now peaceful region. A generation ago, gunfights between robbers called dacoits and police were common.