An accused in the 1981 massacre in Behmai, a village in Kanpur where bandit Phoolan Devi and her gang allegedly killed 21 Rajput men, has been declared a juvenile more than three decades after the incident. The accused, who is now 50 and out on bail, has seven children, the eldest son 24 years old.
In 2008, the accused moved court saying he was a juvenile at the time of the incident. The sessions court of Kanpur Dehat district, relying on his classes VIII and X records, declared him a juvenile two months ago. He is one of the five on trial and the next hearing of the case is on January 25.
Behmai was the village where Phoolan Devi was allegedly raped and the massacre in 1981 was said to be a revenge attack. She surrendered to police in 1983. She went on to become MP from Mirzapur and was shot dead outside her Delhi home on July 25, 2001.
Raja Ram Singh, whose brother Banwari was killed in Behmai, lodged an FIR against Phoolan Devi and her gang at the Sikandra police station in Kanpur district — now Rajpur police station in Kanpur Dehat. Names of the other accused emerged during investigations. While a few were killed in police encounters, others died of natural causes.
While Maan Singh, Vishwanath alias Ashok and Ram Ratan were declared absconders, five were put on trial — the accused who has now been declared a juvenile, Kosa, Bhika, Ram Singh and Shyam Babu. While Ram Singh is in jail, the others are out on bail.
Government counsel Raju Porwal said: “In 2008, one of the accused filed an application along with the photocopy of his education certificates in court claiming he was a minor at the time of incident. The court directed that he file original education certificates. In 2015, the accused filed his original Class X certificate and records of the school from where he cleared Class VIII. After an inquiry, the person was declared a juvenile on November 23, 2015.”
“The trial of the person is going on along with the other accused. Under Section 20 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, if the court holds him guilty, then the trial court will send the case file to the Juvenile Justice Board for pronouncing the sentence,” Porwal said.
He said an appeal challenging the juvenile status of the accused will be filed in the High Court.
Defence counsel Girish Narayan Dubey said: “As per his education records, the person was 15 years, eight months and 13 days old when the incident occurred. I submitted his school records where he studied upto Class VIII and also his high school certificate in court in support of the claim.”
Dubey said the case is in the final arguments stage.
Udaiveer Singh, whose uncles Tulsiram and Chhavinath and cousins Rajendra and Surendra were killed in the massacre, said he will challenge the juvenile status of the accused in the High Court. He said eyewitnesses had identified the accused and he was not a juvenile at the time of the incident.
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