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Delhi police fan out to track Rana
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 18, 2004 20:23 IST
The crime branch of the Delhi police has despatched two teams to Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal to track down Sher Singh alias Pankaj Rana, suspected killer of bandit queen turned politician Phoolan Devi.
Joint Commissioner of Police B K Gupta, who heads the crime branch, told rediff.com, "We have been raiding his possible hideouts with the help of the police from Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Special teams that had investigated the Phoolan Devi murder are on the job."
Gupta, however, declined to give more details.
Rana had owned up to Phoolan Devi's murder after his arrest on July 27, 2001, in Dehradun, two days after the Samajwadi Party member of Parliament was gunned down in front of her Ashok Road residence in New Delhi. At the time he had claimed that his motive was to avenge the Behmai massacre in which 22 Thakurs were killed by Phoolan Devi's gang.
Another senior Delhi police officer said there could be a bigger conspiracy behind Rana's escape. "It is not a question of one person impersonating a policeman and wanting to take Rana to Hardwar," the officer said. "We suspect a bigger collusion. Without that he could not have walked to freedom. The jail staff must also be involved to some degree."
In response, Ajay Aggarwal, director general of Tihar jail, said, "The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry. Three of the jail staff -- V D Pushkarna, deputy superintendent of the jail where Rana was lodged, Prem Chand Yadav, assistant supreintendent, and head warden Ramesh Chand -- have been suspended. I cannot say anything beyond this."Incidentally, Pushkarna was suspended after another jailbreak in 1986 when notorious international criminal Charles Sobhraj walked to freedom after distributing drugged laddoos to the wardens to 'celebrate' his birthday.
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Read about: Assembly Election 2003 | Attack on Parliament