Chhota Rajan Convicted
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Chhota Rajan on Wednesday 2nd May 2018 was convicted of the brutal and shocking murder of Journalist Jyotirmay Dey which took place on June 11, 2011, near a marketplace in Powai, Mumbai. There were 14 people who were accused of this heinous crime of which two are still absconding, Vinod Asrani died in the meantime and 11 people stood trial for the murder.

Facts of the case

Journalist Jyotirmay Dey was a senior crime reporter and was working as an Editor (Investigations) of Midday. He had written a number of pieces on the famous gangster Chhota Rajan and his rivalry with erstwhile gangster and global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. Reporter Dey had also planned to write a book (Chindi — Rags to Riches) on Mumbai underworld and the nefarious activities of the various members.

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Chhota Rajan who was one of the 20 famous gangsters mentioned in the book who had started their lives as petty criminals and later on went on to rule the underworld of the Mumbai city took offence on his writings. He was especially angry when he was described as a “petty (chindi) criminal” and thought that Journalist Dey must have been working with his nemesis Dawood Ibrahim and hence was writing negative pieces on Rajan.

Chhota Rajan, who grew up as Rajendra S Nikhalje, hired Satish Kalia, a contract killer for Rs 5 lakh according to the police to finish off reporter Dey. Kalia arranged a team of seven people to carry out the shooting. On that fateful day of June 11, 2011, two motorbikes and a Qualis SUV started tailing Journalist Jyotirmay Dey when he was returning home from work. Satish Kalia riding pillion on one of the bike fired five shots at Jyotirmay Dey. He was taken to nearby Hiranandani Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

The sensational crime became a shocking murder story and the irony was not lost on the public; a criminal reporter being killed and the underbelly of Mumbai’s criminal world was responsible for the brutal crime, a story straight from a Bollywood potboiler that rocked the whole nation. The police investigation begins along with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) being assigned the case as new facts came to light. Jigna Vora, the Deputy Bureau Chief of The Asian Age, Mumbai was arrested on November 25, 2011, on charges of aiding and abetting the murder, as well as 9 other accused, were nabbed by the police. Chhota Rajan was arrested from Indonesia and deported to India after Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice in November 2015.

Court ruling

The charge sheet was presented to a special CBI Court on December 3, 2011, and additional charges were brought against the accused by CBI later on. The case was heard by Special Judge Honourable Sameer Adkar who was handling special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) cases. He was presented with the testimonies of 155 witnesses and heard the variety of depositions against the 11 accused. The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code pertaining to murder (section 302), criminal conspiracy (section 120(b)) and destruction of evidence (section 204), and under provisions of the stringent MCOCA and the Arms Act.

The prosecution reiterated the fact as to the blatant and brutal disrespect towards law and order displayed in this crime. It was mentioned how public safety and freedom and rights were threatened with such obvious lawlessness as practised by the crimelords of the Mumbai underworld. They claimed that Journalism represents “the fourth pillar of democracy” and killing a journalist for fulfilling his obligations and duties is a direct attack on the democracy and sovereignty of a country.

Justice Adkar took into account every nuanced detail of the case and found Chhota Rajan, Satish Kaliya, Abhijeet Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad, Anil Waghmode, Nilesh Shendge, Mangesh Agawane, and Deepak Sisodia guilty of the murder of Journalist Jyotirmay Dey. Paulson Joseph and journalist Jigna Vora were acquitted on all charges against them due to lack of evidence. He sentenced Chhota Rajan and the eight other accused to life imprisonment this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. A visibly satisfied Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat observed, “This is the first time the mafia don has been convicted for life imprisonment in a major case like murder.”

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