In Kolkata, he was one of the few in the Dharmatala area who subscribed to a Hindi newspaper — a clue that helped the Special Cell of the Delhi Police to track down Sher Singh Rana in 2006, two years after he escaped from Tihar Jail. Rana was the only accused of the total 12, who was convicted by a Delhi court on Friday of murdering Phoolan Devi in 2001 at her residence at Ashoka Road.
Arrested two days after murdering Phoolan, Rana fled from Tihar Jail when men posing as police officers visited the jail with a claim that he was required owing to a production warrant issued against him.
After fleeing Tihar, Rana began staying in Kolkata where he went about telling neighbours that he was a police officer. He would call his family members only from a satellite phone to avoid being tracked.
Rana, as investigators recall, would call his relatives only outside a radius of 300 km from wherever he was hiding at that particular time to avoid being traced. He had also applied for a passport in the name of Sanjay Gupta and during the wait, visited Gaya and Benaras.
Wherever he travelled, he would get his relatives to send him money through middlemen. On one occasion, he visited Kabul where he claimed his motive was to trace the grave of the great warrior Prithviraj Chauhan and bring back the mortal remains to India. He claimed that he went there as a news reporter and traced the grave. He even said he brought back some of the remains of the great warrior — by couriering it to a contact in UP.
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Investigators said the conspiracy hatched by Rana to kill Phoolan was well-planned. On the day he murdered Phoolan, Rana was released on bail after his arrest in a petty offence. His father had given surety amount for his release. Following his release, Rana murdered Phoolan and fled.
In the meantime, he told his father to withdraw the surety amount so that bail would stand cancelled and records would show that Rana was still in jail. Accordingly, the surety amount was withdrawn by Rana’s father, and, the family’s man servant was sent to jail in place of Rana.