Sunday, July 29, 2001,
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Pankaj gets 10-day police remand
Hunt on for three accomplices
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
The Delhi police today intensified its hunt for the three absconding suspects wanted in connection with the daylight slaying of Samajwadi Party MP and former bandit queen Phoolan Devi even as the main suspect, Pankaj, was remanded in police custody for 10 days.

The police said raids had been conducted at several places in Hardwar, Dehra Dun, Roorkee and Meerut to trace them. A large number of their relatives and friends, including two brothers of Ravinder, were also being questioned.The police was also questioning Qayyoom Khan, former security guard of Phoolan Devi, who is under suspension and is at present in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.

The three absconding suspects were identified as Ravinder Singh, Shekhar Singh and Rajbir. Rajbir is believed to have been sitting in another car, a white Maruti, which was supposed to be used as the getaway car. However, in the confusion after the shooting, Rajbir is believed to have driven away alone, leaving the other three to fend for themselves.

Preliminary examination of the two guns recovered from the green Maruti which was abandoned by the suspects on Pandit Pant Marg indicates that these may not have been used in the shooting. However, the police is waiting for the report of experts of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to confirm this.

The police is convinced that the murder was meticulously planned, perhaps in consultation with some experts, since the murder weapon is likely to be different from the ones recovered.

It was also discovered that the suspects had bought two SIM cards for their mobile telephones from Delhi but had destroyed them without even using them. This could have been done to throw the police off the track.

Pankaj alias Sher Singh Rana had yesterday surrendered in Dehra Dun confessing that he had killed Phoolan Devi to avenge the Behmai massacre of Thakurs. He was brought to the Capital early this morning.

Pankaj, who had driven the Roorkee couple, Uma Kashyap and Vijay Kumar, had claimed that he and his cousin, Ravinder, were involved in the murder, despite the fact that all eyewitnesses had claimed that there were three of them .

The police believes that the third person involved in the sensational slaying of the MP outside her Ashoka Road residence in the heart of the high-security area could be one Shekhar Singh, another relative of Pankaj.

The police said while it was not outrightly rejecting the suspectís claim, it was taking the confession with a pinch of salt. It said it could not rule out the involvement of some influential persons in the conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Pankaj was produced in the court of the Metropolitan, Magistrate, M. Bimal Kumar Yadav, and was remanded to 10 daysí police custody. The police had sought his custody as it was yet to arrest his alleged accomplices and recover the murder weapon.
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I didnít know Uma, Pankaj: Umed

New Delhi, July 28
Contradictions over slain dacoit-turned-MP Phoolan Deviís husband Umed Singhís link with Uma Kashyap, a political activist being questioned by the police, surfaced today with Umed Singh denying it and Phoolan Deviís sister confirming it.

While Mr Umed Singh denied knowing both Sher Singh Rana, alias Pankaj, prime accused in the murder case who was arrested in Dehra Dun yesterday, and Uma Kashyap, Phoolan Deviís younger sister Munni Devi claimed he knew both very well. PTI
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