The Mumbai Crime Branch on Tuesday chargesheeted The Asian Age journalist Jigna Vora under stringent provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and various other penal offences for her alleged role in the murder of fellow investigative reporter J Dey. She has been accused of harbouring enmity against Dey and being a part of an underworld conspiracy to eliminate him as the Crime Branch filed a supplementary chargesheet against her.
Dey was shot last June by motorcycle-borne men allegedly hired by fugitive underworld don Chhota Rajan. Police claimed Rajan was upset with Deys reports that portrayed him in poor light and also suspected he was passing on information about him to his rivals.
While nine men alleged to be the shooters and their accomplices were arrested in the weeks after the killing,Vora who was deputy bureau chief with The Asian Age in Mumbai was arrested on November 25.
The 1,471-page chargesheet filed in the Special MCOCA court relies heavily on the testimonial evidence of 27 witnesses. There are also three witness statements recorded by a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The chargesheet does not,however,include physical evidence such as e-mails to prove allegations that Vora passed on Deys motorcycle number and his office and home addresses to Rajan,or that she instigated Rajan by sending him articles written by Dey,as claimed by investigators.
The Crime Branch said it is awaiting some forensic evidence and has transcripts of calls between Rajan and other accused,which allegedly spell out Voras role,but does not have a transcript of a direct conversation between Vora and Rajan.
On December 3 last year,a chargesheet was filed against nine men in custody and two fugitives in the case,including Rajan. We have strong testimonial,circumstantial and physical evidence to prove her role, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy.
Vora was part of the criminal conspiracy. We are attempting to show that there was enmity or ill-will between Vora and Dey,which started with some incidents revolving around issues of closeness with Rajan aide Farid Tanasha and of getting information from him, said Roy.
The Crime Branch has furnished evidence that on May 19,2011,Dey wrote an article that Dawood Ibrahim had left Pakistan and that on May 25,Vora called up Rajan to discuss it. An article by Vora that refuted Deys report saying Dawood was still in Pakistan was published on May 26.
There are records of calls made between Vora and Rajan in April,May and early June last year. There are also witness statements proving she was also in touch with Rajan using accused Paulson Josephs phone. There is also evidence that Vora pointed out two articles written by Dey to Rajan, said Roy.
The Crime Branch has provided a graph analysis of Voras calls to and from Rajan gang members under the Evidence Act,showing that while there were normally six to seven such calls in a month,the figure suddenly rose to 15-20 calls a day in April,May and early June last year. Following Deys murder,Vora allegedly did not make or receive a single call from a Rajan gang member.
According to call records furnished,there were 36 calls made to Rajan from Voras phone before Deys murder,following which there was not a single such call. Deys murder took place on June 11. Vora left Mumbai for Sikkim and Darjeeling on June 9 and returned on June 18. This was not a coincidence as she was aware the murder was going to take place, alleged Roy.
While she was not in the city during this period,she did not use her own phone. Following Deys murder,while other journalists were calling each other to get information,Vora did not call a single person. When someone close to her called on the number she was using,she said she did not want to speak about the murder. We have recorded this persons statement as evidence, Roy added.