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Phoolan Devi’s killer appeals sentence

New Delhi : Sher Singh Rana, sentenced to life imprisonment for killing bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi in 2001, has moved the Delhi High Court challenging his punishment.

A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mukta Gupta transfered the matter to another bench after Justice Gupta recused herself from hearing the case, saying she was once the public prosecutor in this case.

A trial court Aug 14 awarded life term to Rana, who July 25, 2001 gunned down Phoolan Devi, once popularly known as “Bandit Queen” to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she killed 17 people from the Thakur community.

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

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.

She was shot dead outside her residence in New Delhi 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 Nov 2013 and the rest were let off.

Rana was arrested July 27, 2001. However, in 2004, he fled from the high security Tihar Jail. In 2006, he was arrested in Kolkata, brought back to Delhi and lodged again in Tihar Jail.