Kanpur Dehat (UP): The case diary of Behmai massacre, in which 20 people were killed allegedly by bandit Phoolan Devi's gang nearly four decades ago, was found missing on Saturday when a special court was to pronounce its verdict, prompting the judge to postpone the matter to January 24.
Special judge (UP dacoity-affected area) Sudhir Kumar pulled up the court official for the absence of the case diary at the time of delivering the verdict and asked him to place it before the court on January 24.
In 1981, ‘Bandit Queen’ Phoolan Devi’s gang killed 20 Thakurs of Behmai village in Uttar Pradesh to avenge her rape by two bandits of the upper caste Lala Ram and Sri Ram.
Phoolan was from the Mallah caste, categorised in Uttar Pradesh under Most Backward Castes and in other areas as Scheduled Castes.
Then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister V P Singh resigned, taking moral responsibility for the massacre.
As many as 17 of the 28 accused named in the Behmai massacre case have died, including Phoolan Devi herself who was murdered in 2001, after she had gone to prison for 11 years, given up dacoity and joined mainstream politics, becoming a Member of Parliament in 1998.
Four of the five eye-witnesses in the Behmai massacre case have also died.
The court is likely to give its verdict on the role of the four surviving accused -- Posha, Bhikha, Vishwanath and Shyambabu. While Posha is still in jail, the rest are out on bail. Three other dacoits, including Man Singh, are absconding.
"The court decided to fix another date for pronouncing the judgement only after the original case diary is located," district government counsel (criminal) Rajeev Porwal told PTI.
Phoolan’s assassins, allegedly members of a rival dacoit gang, gunned her down in front of the government-designated bungalow for her as an MP in Delhi on July 25, 2001. One person, Sher Singh Rana, was convicted for Phoolan’s murder on August 8, 2014, whereas 10 others were acquitted. Rana was released on bail after spending 13 years in prison, on October 21, 2016
The court also issued a notice to the sessions clerk concerned for the case diary going missing, Porwal said, adding strict instructions have been issued to find it.
Though the disappearance of the case diary came to light only recently, Porwal denied any conspiracy behind it.
An advocate of the complainant later said that the Allahabad High Court will be moved in view of "undue delay in pronouncement of judgement" in the case and "mysterious disappearance" of the original case diary....