New Delhi, Aug 8 IANS | 3 months ago

Thirteen years after the sensational murder of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, a Delhi court Friday convicted main accused Sher Singh Rana, saying that prime facie all the evidence points towards him.

The court acquitted 10 other accused in the case. The quantum of punishment will be announced Aug 13.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar convicted Rana - who gunned down Phoolan Devi, once popularly known as "Bandit Queen" - to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she killed 17 people of the high caste Thakur community.

Umed Singh, Phoolan Devi's husband, expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict.

"... justice has not been done. Ten accused were acquitted (by the court). We will move the high court. This case was politically influenced," he told reporters outside the court.

The court convicted Rana on charges of murder and attempt to murder with common intention. However, he was acquitted for criminal conspiracy and under the Arms Act.

Security was beefed up outside the Patiala House courtroom No.25, keeping in mind the high-profile case hearing.

At the time of her murder, Phoolan Devi, whose dramatic life inspired many books and an internationally acclaimed movie "Bandit Queen", was a Samajwadi Party parliamentarian from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.

Rana, wearing a pink-checked shirt and trousers, looked visibly composed when he entered the packed courtroom.

But he looked shocked when the judge read out the verdict. However, the other 10, who were let off, could not stop expressing their happiness.

Seeing their reaction, Rana asked the court: "Why have I been convicted?"

The judge told him he was convicted as "prime facie evidence" was found against him and he could challenge the order in the high court.

Phoolan Devi was shot dead July 25, 2001 outside her residence at Ashoka Road by Rana and his associates, police said.

Besides Rana, there were 11 other accused in the case. One of them, Pradeep, died of a heart attack in Tihar Jail in November 2013.

Bankim Kulshreshtha, counsel of two accused, Dhan Prakash alias Vicky and Surinder Singh, welcomed the verdict.

But, he said it was unfortunate that Rana was convicted.

"There was no evidence against the accused in the case," he said.

Rana was arrested July 27, 2001. However, in 2004, he fled from the high security Tihar Jail.

In 2006, he was arrested from Kolkata and brought back to Delhi and was lodged again in Tihar Jail.

(Posted on 08-08-2014)

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