NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Friday convicted key accused Sher Singh Rana in the 13-year-old sensational murder of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, who was then a Lok Sabha member, in front of her Ashoka Road residence here.
Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar, however, acquitted 10 other accused in the case due to lack of evidence against them.
"Except Sher Singh Rana, I am acquitting all the accused. Sher Singh Rana is convicted for the offences under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) under the IPC," the judge said and fixed the matter for August 12 for arguments and pronouncement of quantum of sentence.
As soon as the judge pronounced the judgement, 38-year-old Rana said, "Why have you convicted only me. Others were also there."
The judge, however, said that he can file an appeal before the high court challenging the order. "I have passed the judgement, you can file an appeal in the high court," the judge said.
The court acquitted Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh, Vijay Singh alias Raju (Rana's brother), Rajender Singh alias Ravinder Singh, Keshav Chauhan, Praveen Mittal, Amit Rathi, Surender Singh Negi alias Suri and Sharavan Kumar.
The proceedings against accused Pradeep Singh were abated after he died in Tihar Jail in November 2013. Rana, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh and Sharavan Kumar were produced in the court from judicial custody while other accused were on bail.
37-year-old Phoolan was shot dead from close range by three masked gunmen in the heart of the capital's VIP area as she returned home for lunch after attending Lok Sabha on July 25, 2001.
Delhi Police had chargesheeted 11 men accusing them of eliminating Phoolan to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she had allegedly killed a number of Thakurs. The charge sheet had named Rana, Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh, Vijay Singh, Rajender Singh, Keshav Chauhan, Praveen Mittal, Amit Rathi, Surender Singh Negi and Pradeep Singh as accused.
All the accused were charged for the offences of murder read with criminal conspiracy and destroying evidence. They also faced charges of attempting to murder her security guard and under various provisions of Arms Act.
Police had said that Rana, the prime accused, wanted to establish himself as a Thakur leader by masterminding the killing and ruled out any other motive behind the murder of the Samajwadi Party MP. "Investigations were conducted discretely to ascertain whether there was any motive, other than the political aspirations of Sher Singh, for Phoolan Devi's murder. These have, however, drawn a blank," the charge sheet had said. "..there was none else, except those arrested and being mentioned in the charge sheet either in the conspiracy or in the execution of the conspiracy...," it had added.
As per the conspiracy, Rana procured weapons from his friend Rathi, owner of a gun shop in Roorkee. He came to Delhi along with Vicky, Shekhar, Rajbir and Uma Kashyap, her husband Vijay Kumar Kashyap in two Maruti cars in the morning on the fateful day, the charge sheet had alleged.
Rana, who had driven Phoolan to Parliament, was waiting for her to come back for lunch. After she got down from the vehicle Rana fired at her head while Vicky pumped bullets at her stomach. Later, Rana fired indiscriminately at Phoolan who fell on the ground. Vicky fired at her bodyguard who had returned the fire on them, the charge sheet alleged. While fleeing the scene of crime, they dropped their country-made pistols.
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Rana also fired one shot from the car while escaping, police had said. Police had recovered the cars, weapons including a Webley Scot revolver, mobile phones, SIM cards and the clothes worn by the accused at the time of the offence. Forensic examination of the bullets extricated from the body of the slain MP had confirmed that they were fired from the weapons recovered from the accused, police had said.
Rana was on the prowl for about two-three years and for that he was gathering money and material for which he had looted a bank and also committed a dacoity for which he was facing trial.