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The Indiana Jones of Etawah

SHER SINGH Rana, the prime accused in the Phoolan Devi murder case, seems to have got into the habit of crying out Rajput honour every time he lands in jail. And his claims are getting outlandish by the day.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 13:13 IST

SHER SINGH Rana, the prime accused in the Phoolan Devi murder case, seems to have got into the habit of crying out Rajput honour every time he lands in jail. And his claims are getting outlandish by the day.

Rana, whose run as a fugitive ended with his arrest in Kolkata on Monday night, has told the police that he escaped from Tihar jail two years ago on a mission: to bring to India the "ashes of Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan" from Afghanistan. He claimed his mission has been accomplished.

Rana said he brought relics and sand from the king's grave in Ghazni and also had a memorial built in Etawah in UP. (Police in Kanpur said all that exists in the name of a memorial was a foundation stone for a temple.)

Rana told the police that got a fake passport from Ranchi and flew to Afghanistan on a student visa in early 2005 -- about 10 months after his escape from Tihar. A former D-company member Subhash Thakur, whom he had first met in Tihar jail, financed his trip. This was despite the fact that a lookout notice had been issued against him.

During his three-month stay in that country, Rana went searching for the king's "grave" -- he admitted to his interrogators he had little idea about the location. Only, he had heard that people disrespected the king's "resting place" and "that hurt" him the most.

After touring Kandahar, Kabul and Herat, he finally reached Ghazni. On the outskirts of Ghazni, at a small village called Deak, he claimed to have found the tomb of Muhammed Ghori. A few metres away lay Prithviraj Chauhan's tomb.

Rana said he convinced the locals that he had come from Pakistan to restore Ghori's tomb. On the sly, he dug Chauhan's "grave" and collected sand from it. He even got his "achievement" recorded on video.

In April 2005, he was back in India. He sent the 'ashes' through courier to Etawah and organised a function there with the help of local politicians. Rana's mother, Satwati Devi, was the chief guest.

On Tuesday, his mother hailed his son as the "pride of the country". "My son has only served this country. He brought the remains of Prithviraj Chauhan to India," she said.