New Delhi: It was Nagpanchami, an auspicious day, and Phoolan Devi had made milk kheer, which she also innocently offered her would-be killer hours before he shot her dead. Sher Singh Rana, who shot dead Phoolan Devi, India`s famed bandit queen-turned-parliamentarian, on July 25, 2001, had come to meet her at her MP`s house under a false name and said he wanted to join her Eklavya Sena.
"Rana had claimed his name was Shekhar. He came with Uma Kashyap, who was a member of Uttarakhand unit of the Eklavya Sena," Umed Singh, Phoolan`s husband, told IANS.
Rana, who was this week convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court for the crime, arrived with Uma in the morning to meet Phoolan, who was a Samajwadi Party MP from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, and lived in a plush Ashoka Road bungalow.
"He met Phoolan and told her he wanted to join the Eklavya Sena, a party she had formed to fight for the rights of the down-trodden. Phoolan offered him milk kheer that had been made as it was Nagpanchami and she offered it to others who had come to meet her. She then left for Parliament House at around 11 a.m.," Umed Singh recalled.
"He remained sitting in the visitors` lobby where other people who came to meet her waited. No one could have imagined his intent. When she returned from parliament at around 1.30 p.m., he shot her dead," said Umed Singh, who was married to Phoolan for seven years till she died.
"I heard later that he had recced the house for many months earlier with the plan to kill her," he added.
Phoolan Devi was gunned down at the gate of her official residence at 44, Ashoka Road, in the highly secured New Delhi area.
Rana killed Phoolan Devi to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she killed 17 people of the Thakur community. She said she had killed the men to avenge her gang-rape by the Thakurs of the village.
Umed Singh feels there was a "larger plan" behind Phoolan Devi`s killing.
"I feel there was a big political plan behind her killing. Phoolan was making a name for herself politically. She was a woman and from the oppressed class and was trying to gather others around her to make their voices heard. No one likes it when someone, especially a woman, from the lower classes rises and makes a name for herself," said Umed Singh, who has himself fought the Lok Sabha polls.
Umed Singh contested the 2009 parliamentary elections as the Congress candidate from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, and this year from the Bahujan Samaj Party.
"In Phoolan Devi`s death, society has lost a person who would have raised her voice to fight for the rights of the deprived," Umed Singh said.