NEARLY SEVEN years after senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was shot dead by motorcycle-borne shooters on a street in Powai, a special CBI court in Mumbai is likely to pronounce its judgment in the case on Wednesday, deciding whether the murder was committed at the behest of gangster Rajendra Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan by his gang members. Eleven accused including Rajan and former journalist Jigna Vora, have faced trial on charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and under relevant sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
Special Judge Sameer S Adkar will decide on Wednesday about the role and involvement of the accused, based on evidence placed before him during trial. Dey, the 56-year-old senior journalist with Mid-Day, was killed in the afternoon of June 11, 2011 while he was on the way to his residence in Powai. Four men on two bikes had chased Dey, while one, allegedly Rajan gang’s shooter Rohit Joseph alias Satish Kaliya, fired five shots at him with a revolver, causing his death.
The Mumbai police, which initially investigated the case, had arrested eleven persons in 2011, claiming that they participated in and executed the conspiracy to murder Dey, on the instructions of Rajan, who was initially named as an absconding accused.
After Rajan’s arrest in 2015, the case was transferred to the CBI, which filed a supplementary chargesheet against him. The CBI claimed in the chargesheet filed in 2016 that Rajan ordered the killing over Dey’s proposed books and articles, which, the gangster felt, showed him in poor light. The chargesheet had claimed that the material of the book being written by Dey showed that he was to expose Rajan’s ‘fake patriotic mask’ and show that he had no ‘concern for the ones who lost their lives in the process of making him a big name’. The CBI also claimed that Rajan did not like being included in a book titled ‘Chindi-Rags to Riches’ on 20 gangsters including him.
Special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat examined 155 prosecution witnesses, including Dey’s wife, his colleagues in the media and forensic and medical experts. Rajan, lodged in Tihar jail in Delhi, has been produced before the court for the trial through video-conferencing. Rajan is facing nearly 70 cases filed against him. He has so far been convicted in a fake passport case in 2017, and he was sentenced to a seven-year jail term. If found guilty in the murder case, Rajan faces the death penalty or a minimum of life imprisonment.
The other accused include Anil Waghmode, Arun Dake and Mangesh Aagavane, who were with Satish Kaliya when Dey was shot, Sachin Gaikwad, who had allegedly kept a watch on Dey, and provided his motorcycle for the attack, Abhijeet Shinde and Nilesh Shedge, who allegedly travelled to Nainital to get the revolver for the crime, Deepak Sisodiya, who allegedly arranged for the rounds for the revolver, Paulson Joseph, who allegedly arranged SIM cards for the accused to communicate with Rajan and Vora, who the police claimed had ‘instigated’ Rajan against Dey. Vora was granted bail in July 2012.
One of the accused, Vinod Asrani alias Vinod Chembur, died in 2015. A prosecution witness of the Mumbai police, who was named by the CBI as an accused, Ravi Rattesar, continues to be absconding.