Behmai massacre case: Original diary missing, court defers verdict

Phoolan Devi surrendered in 1983; joined politics after bail, became Lok Sabha MP

A special court in Kanpur Dehat, which was supposed to pronounce the verdict in Behmai massacre case, in which 20 people were killed allegedly by Phoolan Devi’s dacoit gang in 1981, on Saturday postponed the matter and directed the court staff to produce original documents related to the case before it.

Special Judge (dacoity) Sudhir Kumar fixed January 24 as the next date of hearing.

Denying that the case diary was missing, government counsel Raju Porwal said the court office staff will get the case diary from the record room and produce it before court on the next hearing. “The court has now fixed January 24 for pronouncement of judgment,” he added.

Porwal said, “We were using photocopies of original documents of the case during the proceedings. Since it is an old case, original documents, which are huge in number, were kept in the court’s record room. The court, which was to pronounce the judgment today, held that the original case diary should be present in court during pronouncement of the judgment.”

Since the case diary was not in courtroom on Saturday, Special Judge Sudhir Kumar issued notice to the sessions clerk and directed that it be produced on January 24, he said.

An advocate of the complainant later said they will move the Allahabad High Court in view of “undue delay in pronouncement of judgment” in the case and “mysterious disappearance” of the original case diary, PTI reported.
The special court for hearing dacoity-related cases was expected to deliver the verdict in the 1981 Behmai massacre case on January 6, but it allowed the defence counsel to submit written arguments by January 16. Defence counsel Girish Narain Dubey had appeared before the court on January 6, seeking more time to submit written arguments and was granted 10 more days, PTI reported, quoting Porwal.

The case dates back to February 14, 1981, the day 20 people were killed and six others injured, allegedly by Phoolan Devi’s gang. It was alleged that the incident was a fallout of the killing of dacoit Vikram Mallah and the sexual assault on Phoolan Devi. The court is likely to give its verdict on four accused: Posha, Bhikha, Vishwanath and Shyambabu. While Posha is still in jail, the others are out on bail.

Another accused, Ram Singh, who was out on bail, died around two years ago. Three others — Man Singh, Ram Ratan and Ashok — are absconding.

Initially, 35 people, including Phoolan Devi, were named as accused in the case. Eight of them were reportedly killed by police in separate encounters. Three others are reportedly absconding.

Two years after the incident, Phoolan Devi surrendered to Madhya Pradesh police in 1983. She joined politics after being released from jail, and became a Lok Sabha member, representing Samajwadi Party.

She was shot dead near her Delhi residence in July 2001.