Phoolan Devi murder witness turns hostile

November 20th, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) An eyewitness to the 2001 murder of ‘bandit queen’-turned-politician Phoolan Devi Thursday turned hostile in a city court and said prime accused Sher Singh Rana was not the person he had seen during the attack. Vinod Vishwanath, working as a salesman with a private firm, told Additional Sessions Judge J.S. Aryan that he did not see Rana on that fateful day.

Prosecution informed the court that Vinod, deposing as 129th prosecution witness, had told the police earlier that he had seen Rana and others firing at Phoolan Devi when he was offering prayers at a mazar outside her residence in New Delhi area.

The court then declared him hostile and asked the prosecution to cross-examine him.

On sustained questioning, the 28-year-old witness broke down and said he had already faced a lot of harassment as the police had been visiting his house frequently.

Rana along with 11 others had allegedly conspired and killed the Samajwadi Party MP to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre, in which she had killed 17 people of the Thakur caste.

The assailants had dropped their weapons at the murder spot after killing the MP outside her 44 Ashoka Road official residence on July 25, 2001.

The police later recovered a country-made pistol and a pistol from the garage of the politician’s house.

Besides Vinod, Phoolan Devi’s personal assistant Kalicharan and her sister Munni Devi were earlier declared hostile after they said they could not identify the assailants as they were wearing monkey caps.

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