Phoolan Devi murder witness turns hostile

New Delhi : A key prosecution witness in the 2001 murder of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi Friday turned hostile in a city court, claiming that his earlier statement indicting Sher Singh Rana as the main accused was made at the behest of the public prosecutor.

Raja Kumar, who had studied with Rana at St. Gabriel School at Roorkee in Uttarakhand, said his statement recorded Feb 21, 2004 in a court, was not true as it was influenced by the public prosecutor.

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He had at that time testified that Rana used to visit his residence here in a Maruti car, which was allegedly used in the crime, and had sought information about the slain Samajwadi Party MP, including her Delhi address.

Raja Friday told Additional Sessions Judge Brijesh Kumar Garg that Rana had not sought any information about Phoolan Devi and that his earlier statement was incorrect.

Taking note of his flip-flop, prosecutor S.K. Saxena submitted that Raja be declared a hostile witness so that he can be cross-examined for ascertaining the truth.

Rana, with 11 others, allegedly conspired and killed Phoolan Devi July 25, 2001, to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which the then bandit queen killed 17 people of Thakur community.

The assailants had dropped their weapons at the murder spot after killing the MP outside her 44 Ashoka Road official residence.