Armed bandits demand water in drought-stricken northern India

Drought - Photo by Tomas Castelazo

Armed bandits are threatening villagers with death unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day in northern India, where water is scarce thanks to an ongoing drought and a poor supply.

So far, 28 villages have been obeying the order, taking turns to deliver what the bandits are calling a daily “water tax,” police said.

“Water itself is very scarce in this region. Villagers can hardly meet their demand,” officer Suresh Kumar Singh said by telephone from Banda, a city on the southern border of central Uttar Pradesh state and caught within what is known in India as bandit country.

Though the number of bandits has declined drastically in recent decades, India’s bandit tradition, which began more than 800 years ago when emperors still ruled, has continued in the hard-to-reach forests and mountains of the Bundelkhand region.

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