In a major development in the Behmai Massacre case, Kanpur court on Saturday has adjourned the hearing as the case diary has gone missing. The Court is likely to pronounce the verdict on January 24. The case pertains to the massacre of 20 people in Behmai village, allegedly by bandit Phoolan Devi nearly four decades ago.
There has been a delay in the hearing, after the special court allowed the defence counsel to submit its written arguments by January 16. However, in a twist to the case, the Court was informed that the case diary has gone missing. The current judgement will be on the role of the four surviving accused -- Bhikha, Posha, Vishwanath and Ram Singh as the Phoolan Devi, her rape accused Lala Ram and Sri Ram and witnesses are all dead. While Posha is still in jail, the rest are out on bail. Three other dacoits, including Man Singh, are absconding.
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. The judge postponed pronouncement of the verdict after finding out that the original case diary was missing from court record, district government counsel (criminal) Rajeev Porwal told PTI.
The court also asked its staff to trace the missing case diary and place it before it on the next date, Porwal said. "The court decided to fix another date for pronouncing the judgement only after the original case diary is located," he said. The court also issued a notice to the clerk of the session 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.
Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi and her gang members were accused of killing 20 people belonging to the Thakur community at Behmai village in Kanpur Dehat on February 14, 1981. Phoolan Devi had reportedly stormed into Behmai to avenge her alleged rape by two other bandits, both belonging to the upper caste Thakurs. When they were not found, he shot 20 people belonging to the same community. She then surrendered to police in 1983.
As per the terms of her surrender, then MP CM Arjun Singh agreed to keep her in the Gwalior prison, rather than being sent to a UP prison — as a result of which the summons and non-bailable warrants issued by a Kanpur court were returned unserved. She spent 11 years in Gwalior and Jabalpur jails and was released without facing trial, in 1994 as she kept fighting a legal battle against the UP police and the Kanpur court's orders. Charges against the four accused, who are still surviving, were framed only in 2012.
However, in 1996, Mulayam Singh Yadav's UP government withdrew all cases against her. She then went on to become an MP from Mirzapur. But, she lost the seat in a mid-term poll in 1998 and won it again in 1999. She was shot dead outside her Delhi home on July 25, 2001.