Saturday, July 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pankaj arrested for Phoolan’s murder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The police today claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough in the sensational slaying of former bandit queen and Samajwadi Party MP, Mrs Phoolan Devi, with the surrender of Pankaj in Dehra Dun today and the subsequent identification of the other two suspects.

One of the other suspects has been identified as Ravinder, a cousin of Pankaj and employed in his Roorkee liquor shop. Police parties are scouring several cities in Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh to trace the two absconding suspects.

The police said Pankaj after his preliminary interrogation was produced before a magistrate and was remanded in the custody of the Delhi Police. He is being brought here on a transit remand.

It was now clear that Sher Singh Rana and Pankaj were two names assumed by the same man and the green Maruti (CIM 907) used by the assailants belonged to him.

According to the preliminary reports of his interrogation in Dehra Dun, Pankaj, who also went under the alias of Sher Singh Rana, is believed to have confessed to the killing claiming that he had done so to avenge the massacre of 22 Thakurs in Behmai village in 1981 and had been planning the murder for the past two months.

Pankaj, who was the driver of the getaway car and had earlier driven Uma Kashyap and Vijay Kumar from Roorkee to Mrs Phoolan Devi’s residence on Wednesday, claimed he had fired six shots at the former bandit queen soon after she returned from Parliament to her Ashoka Road residence.

He also reportedly claimed his cousin Ravinder fired at and injured the Personal Security Officer (PSO), Constable Balinder Singh, when he retaliated. The PSO is still in a critical condition in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Pankaj Singh, who claims he is a Thakur, said he acted alone and there was no conspiracy behind the sensational slaying which has now attained political overtones.

Senior Delhi Police officials were, however, reluctant to believe these claims till they could verify them independently and support it with clinching evidence based on forensic examination of the car, the murder weapon and the bullets fired from it.

While Pankaj during his interrogation has claimed he and his cousin were the only two involved in the murder eyewitnesses and the autorickshaw driver who carried the suspects after they had abandoned the green Maruti on Pandit Pant Marg, claimed there were three of them. A senior Delhi Police officer said things would be a lot clearer once Pankaj was put through extensive interrogation and Ravinder arrested.

The police said the 25-year-old Sher Singh Rana, alias Pankaj Kalra, took active part in the students union of DAV College in Dehra Dun where he and some other young men belonging to the Thakur clan used to meet regularly.

He had assumed the name Pankaj for his business and political activities. He had come in contact with Uma Kashyap and Vijay Kumar in Roorkee where the couple were active members of the Eklavya Sena, an organisation floated by the late Mrs Phoolan Devi to look after the interests of the backward class communities. He had acted as their driver on earlier occasions. Mrs Phoolan Devi is also believed to have stayed at their house in Roorkee when she visited the city on an earlier occasion. Vijay Kumar is said to be a class IV employee of the Roorkee Municipal Corporation.

MIRZAPUR (PTI): Umed Singh, husband of slain Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Phoolan Devi, today expressed doubts whether Pankaj Singh, alias Sher Singh Rana, arrested in Dehra Dun in connection with the killing, was the real culprit.

Umed Singh told PTI that Phoolan had no connection whatsoever with Dehra Dun.Back


Is he shielding someone?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Is Pankaj, alias Sher Singh Rana, shielding someone by confessing to the murder of Mrs Phoolan Devi and claiming that there were only two of them involved?

This, senior police officers point out, is in contradiction to the statements of the several eyewitnesses, including Bahadur Singh, the auto- rickshaw driver who is believed to have dropped them near Tilak Bridge on that day. All of them put the number of assassins as three.

Senior police officers when confronted with these facts said, “Things were a little confused at the moment.” However, the matter will be resolved as soon as Pankaj is interrogated and his cousin Ravinder arrested.Back


Arrest or surrender?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Delhi Police and the Uttaranchal Police today made contradictory claims over the detention of Pankaj Kalra, alias Sher Singh Rana. While the Delhi Police claimed he had surrendered before the media in Dehra Dun because of the “intense pressure exerted on him”, the Uttaranchal Police claimed he was arrested from the Dalanwala area while he was on his way to the local Press Club.

The Uttaranchal Police DG, Mr A.K. Sharan, had claimed the local police had specific information he would be visiting the Press Club. A team was deployed and he was nabbed as soon as he reached there. The Delhi Police officials, while giving some credit to the police forces of the adjoining states, claimed Pankaj was forced to surrender because of the pressure by the Crime Branch officials who chased him to Roorkee, Hardwar and Dehra Dun after he had fled the Capital.


Phoolan’s ashes immersed

Allahabad, July 27
The ashes of Samajwadi Party MP Phoolan Devi, who was shot dead in Delhi on Wednesday, were immersed at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati here today. 

The urn containing the ashes was brought here by Phoolan Devi’s husband Mr Ummed Singh by road from Mirzapur, where her body was consigned to flames yesterday. A large number of SP leaders were present at the Sangam. UNI Back

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