Journalist Jigna Vora acquitted for lack of evidence
Seven years after his murder, a Special MCOCA court yesterday sentenced underworld don Chhota Rajan and eight others to life imprisonment for the 2011 murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, while journalist Jigna Vora, who was also an accused in the case, was acquitted for lack of evidence.
All nine who were convicted, were found guilty for murder, criminal conspiracy and under different sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) by the special MCOCA court.
One of them, Sathish Kaliya, who shot J Dey, was additionally convicted under the Arms Act for three years under Section 25 of the Act and seven years under Section 27. These sentences will run concurrently with that of life imprisonment.
Special Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat did not seek death penalty in the case and left it to the discretion of the court to decide while emphasizing that it was an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy. A total of 155 witnesses were examined during the trial.
Chhota Rajan who appeared during the sentencing through video conferencing from Delhi's Tihar Jail where he is lodged, had been captured from Indonesia in 2015 when he was trying to travel with a fake passport.
Those convicted, except one, will have to pay a total fine of Rs. 26 lakhs for the various offences under different sections. Kaliya will have to pay an additional Rs. 35,000 fine for offences under the Arms Act.
Apart from gangster Chhota Rajan, those convicted are Sathish Kaliya, Anil Waghmode, Abhijeet Shinde, Nilesh Shendge, Arun Dake, Mangesh Agawane and Sachin
Gaikwad, all history sheeters and belonging to the Chhota Rajan gang. They had helped conduct a recce. Vinod Asrani, who had helped shooters identify Dey and Dipak Sisodia, who supplied weapons to them, were also convicted. A section of the Arms Act was dropped against Sisodia which had attracted a fine of Rs. 10 lakh for the other convicts.
Vinod Asrani alias Vinod Chembur, a key accused in the case, had died in April 2015 from cirrhosis of the liver, was also convicted. He had helped shooters identify Dey and was known to be a close aide of Chhota Rajan.
Paulson Joseph, who had helped in procuring sim cards was acquitted. Jigna Vora, who was deputy bureau chief at The Asian Age, had been accused of passing on Dey's address and vehicle number plate to the underworld don. It is believed she had instigated Rajan against Dey because of professional rivalry.
J Dey who was crime and investigations editor at Mid-day and had authored two books on the city's underworld was killed by motorcycle-borne sharpshooters on June 11, 2011 at the age of 56. It is said that Chhota Rajan was miffed at articles Dey had written about him and a book he was in process of writing which portrayed 20 gangsters who rose from humble backgrounds, of which he was one.