378 Proof of Crime Patrol true stories ::: The J Dey journalist murder story

Conspiracies that did Jigna Vora in

Chhota Rajan convicted in J Dey’s murder; court acquits crime journalist Jigna Vora

We have 38 damning transcripts of Jigna Vora with Chhota Rajan plotting the murder of J Dey,” the then joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy, claimed in the presence of the late home minister R R Patil. The meeting was arranged by Gurbir Singh, the then president of the Mumbai Press Club. Only a handful of journalists who really believed in Jigna’s innocence were part of this delegation.

Those were dark days. For Jigna, for me and for truth. For me, as the then editor of The Asian Age, it was not the machinations of the Mumbai police that galled me. As an old hand at crime reporting, one could sniff out fact from fiction. The lies, as also the cover-up. I also knew when theywere planting a story, or framing a small cog. But what completely shook me in the way Jigna Vora was made an accused in MCOCA on the strength of scant evidence was not the police conspiracy but the media conspiracy. The credibility of the fabled Mumbai police had begun to fray sometime in the 1990s itself. The comparisons to Scotland Yard was lazy labelling. For those of us who watched this at close hand, we knew about the fixing, the wheeling-dealing policemen, who hobnobbed with which gangster. Some bit of it was private information and some bit a ‘colour’ copy.

The seeds of all that happened with Jyotirmoy Dey’s killing and in the aftermath, lay in these 90s.

The more the police floundered to find Dey’s killers, the louder the media bayed. At a certain point, crime reporters even rallied to point a finger at an assistant commissioner of police against whom Dey had done several stories while he was alive. The said ACP was grilled for a few hours and then let off. The reporters were not at all happy with this partisan investigation. They began taking out morchas and delegations to the chief minister and home minister bringing to bear tremendous pressure on the police.

In this pressure cooker atmosphere, something had to give. Pitting a reporter against the media was a masterstroke. It would shut them up for good! Within a few days, stories began to circulate about the involvement of a certain woman journalist. Soon after, we had a name.

Jigna, a scrappy, fiesty reporter, was good. She had managed to rile up several officers who had been hauled up by their superiors on account of her stories. In some cases, there were even carefully-plotted careers on the line. It did not help Jigna’s case that she was brash, outspoken, abrasive and indiscreet. When you take on the might, discretion is the better part of valour.

She came from a broken family, and was herself a single mother. She had to claw her way to get anything and that’s what she did in journalism too. She made her contacts among the lawyers and criminals when she was interning with a law firm. She realised her calling was in journalism and not in law and pursued a journalism course at the Somaiya college. She left it midway to join The Free Press Journal before joining Mumbai Mirror. We became good friends and developed a strong rapport and bond because both of us loved crime reporting.

Subsequently, she was the first choice for my team when I joined The Asian Age as an editor.

If she was scrappy and ambitious, she was also liberal with sharing information with her colleagues. She gave them spin offs to her breaking stories that often helped many a television reporter. Ironically, it was this very group of crime reporters who ganged up against her eventually.

Where they would be waiting in the reception area of a senior police officer, Jigna would just barge in without a by your leave. This behaviour was noticed and marked. WhatsApp forwards and the dole given at the darbar of the joint commissioner, crime, had become the staple of most crime reporters by this time.

When stories about Jigna’s purported involvement in Dey’s killing began to do the rounds, most reporters blindly fell for the police version. Even after the chargesheet was filed, nobody wondered about the absence of the transcript of the phone calls. Instead of questioning that, most reporters dwelt on irrelevant details like her rented flat, which incidentally was a slum redevelopment project house, a few minutes from The Asian Age office: It comprised a single room. Every small fragment of her life was being scrutinized as part of Jigna’s arsenal in the perpetration of crime. Why did she have two mobile phones? Why did she have two gold rings? Did the Mumbai underworld gift her the jewellery? Why was she not in the city when Jyotirmoy Dey was killed? I, as her then editor, was shouting hoarse telling everybody who cared to listen that she had applied for leave three months prior to Dey’s killing as she was travelling with her extended family on a long vacation to the north-east.

I also hold a deep grudge with this newspaper for being the first to hit the nail in her coffin. For, it was Mumbai Mirror’s front page story that gave the maximum credence to Mumbai police’s slanderous theories that it was she who had passed on Dey’s motorcycle number to Chhota Rajan. A theory roundly discredited in court yesterday. As an investigative reporter, I could have asked so many questions. Ashish Khetan, a former Mumbai Mirror colleague, did do so in his article in Tehelka. But he was an exception. I stuck by Jigna despite my own reputation taking a beating. I felt it was important to stand up for her because I was convinced she had been made a scapegoat.

“When J Dey was killed you people marched to the Mantralaya but when Jigna was arrested your fraternity did nothing and preferred to remain a mere spectator,” said one of the few good police officers who knew that the evidence against Jigna was cooked up and flimsy.

The police officer was mistaken. It was the media trial that led to her arrest. They played the role of a glorified stenographer at the hands of certain police officers. It was they who labelled her “kingpin” and “prime accused” in the J Dey murder case.

If there was a indeed a rivalry between Dey and Jigna, how come nobody in the media ever spoke about it? Neither Dey nor Jigna, both of whom often confided in me, mentioned it even once.

Jigna was held guilty by the media and convicted for the crime even before the specially designated Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court presided over the trial. She spent eight months in jail with hardened criminals. Her old parents were devastated so was her ailing grandfather. She lost both her mother and grandfather after that. It was heartbreaking to see her son, barely a teenager, struggling without a parent. The seven years of pain, agony, humiliation. Can she ever be compensated for that? Jigna Vora has been acquitted, but for me, it is the death sentence for crime reporting in Mumbai.

THE CORIANDER CHRONICLES

Two coriander vendors, in jail for killing another, make threat calls to two more for bail money

Vaseemulla Begh, 24, has filed a police complaint. The Kolar native told the police that he has been getting calls demanding money for bail, amounting to Rs 20,000, threatening him with murder upon failure. He alleged that the accused, Ajay and Munna, who had been his friends, were behind the call.

The accused had killed a vegetable vendor, Sreenivasa alias Kottambari Seena in December 2017. Seena was hacked to death in the middle of the night. According to Vaseemulla, he has been getting calls from two mobile numbers over the last 20 days, demanding money from him.

Vaseemulla refused to pay up and got repeated calls, threatening him with death. He has furnished the phone numbers to the police.

BM tried calling the two numbers and found both still active. On one, a person attended the call and introduced himself as Vijay. When asked about the calls made to Vaseemulla, he disconnected. The other number went unanswered.

Prisoners, convicted or under trial, are banned from using mobile phones. But this incident shows that prisoners do enjoy all the privileges. When City Market police was contacted, the investigating officer said, “the case has been registered and we are investigating into the case. We will nab the callers in couple of days and send them behind bars. We will also alert the jail authorities if the calls were made from inside jail.”

Incidentally, the killers have allegedly called another coriander merchant from City Market. The complainant, Muniswamy 65, has told police that Ajay and Manna who are the main accused in the Sreenivas murder have been calling him for tha last 20 days and asking him to pay Rs 20,000 for bail. He has given the police two mobile numbers which are the same numbers from which Vaseemulla has been called. Muniswamy was threatened with murder if he doesn’t pay up.

The rules state that prisoners can’t use mobile phones

J DEY MURDER CASE VERDICT

‘IN COLD BLOOD’

Life sentence for Chhota Rajan and eight others, acquittal for Jigna Vora and another accused
Special MCOCA court terms J Dey’s killing a “cold-blooded murder” plotted by Rajan, finds no evidence against former journalist Vora

Nearly seven years after senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was gunned down near his house in Powai, the special MCOCA court on Wednesday sentenced nine accused, including gangster Chhota Rajan, to life imprisonment.

Former journalist Jigna Vora, who the police had accused of “instigating” Rajan against Dey out of “professional rivalry”, was acquitted of all charges and so was another accused — Paulson Joseph — charged with handling the financial operations concerned with the murder conspiracy.

While Vora broke down in tears after the verdict, Rajan, following the courtroom proceedings via video conferencing from Tihar Jail in Delhi where he has been lodged since his deportation from Indonesia in 2015, looked on blankly. “Theek hain,” was all the 61-year-old Rajan muttered, when Special Judge Sameer Adkar asked whether he had anything to say after the verdict. This is Rajan’s first major conviction in India.

Terming Dey’s killing a “cold-blooded murder”, Judge Adkar imposed a fine of Rs 27 lakh on each of the convicts barring Deepak Sisodiya, who was handed a fine of Rs 16 lakh. Satish Kalya, who pumped five bullets into Dey on June 11, 2011, was also convicted under the Arms Act. The judge directed that Rs 5 lakh be paid to J Dey’s sister Leena by way of compensation.

The other six accused convicted are Anil Waghmode, Abhijit Shinde, Nilesh Shedge, Arun Dake, Mangesh Aagvane, and Sachin Gaikwad. One of the high-profile accused, Vinod Asrani alias Vinod Chembur, died during the trial.

RAJAN’S ‘CONFESSIONS’

Judge Adkar appeared to have relied on several journalists’ testimonies that Rajan had called them up to claim Dey’s murder. Confessions by a former employee of Vinod Asrani and two accused were also accepted by the court.

Regarding the journalists’ testimonies that Rajan had ‘confessed’ to getting Dey killed, the court observed that not only did Rajan take no action against the news channels for reporting his ‘confession’, he also did not bother to deny the reports. “They (journalists) were independent witnesses. There was no reason for them to depose falsely. There is no evidence to show that there was any previous concert between these witnesses to falsely implicate Rajan.”

The judge further observed: “From the various extrajudicial confessions made by Chhota Rajan, it is very much clear that he was not happy with what J Dey was writing about him. He was sure that Dey was working for Dawood Ibrahim.”

‘ATTENTION-SEEKERS’

Judge Adkar, while elaborating on the point of criminals calling up journalists, noted that criminal feels “fairly confident” that he’ll not be caught. “Some may not see themselves as criminals but as misunderstood, hard workers being oppressed by the system. The aim of some may be to induce fear and in turn gain attention. Others may want to spread a word or warn the rivals, to attract new funding/sustain old funding, to attract new members/sustain old members and to put fear into those who disagree,” the judge said.

Apart from Rajan’s extra-judicial confessions, the prosecution relied on confessions of accused Dake and Sisodiya, recovery of mobile phones and SIM cards used by the accused, recovery of the firearm and ammunition, vehicles used by the accused, chemical analyser and ballistic reports, call data records, and intercepted conversations between Rajan and a witness.

Jigna Vora, who was acquitted by the special MCOCA court

WHY NO DEATH PENALTY?

Special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat did not seek a death sentence for the convicts. He left it to the discretion of the court, saying the killing was an attack on the fourth pillar of democracy, and that it needed to send out a “strong message”. The defence said the case did not fall in the ‘rarest of rare’ category, which attracts the death penalty. It urged the court to show leniency towards the convicts on several grounds, including their age and that some of them had young children or ailing parents to look after.

Govt official’s murder in Kasauli

Can’t pass order if you kill people: SC

Town planner Shailbala Sharma had gone to seal illegal constructions at resorts on the court’s order

#NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of the killing of a woman government official in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, allegedly by a hotel owner after she had gone to seal an unauthorised construction in his property on the apex court’s direction.

The top court also rapped the state government for not providing adequate security to Assistant Town and Country Planner Shailbala Sharma, who was leading the team for demolition of unauthorised construction at 13 guest houses and resorts on Tuesday.

A bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, termed the incident as “extremely serious” and noted that government officials had gone there to comply with the court’s direction to seal unauthorised constructions. “We might stop passing any orders if you are going to kill people,” it said.

Sharma had gone to seal unauthorised constructions in Kasauli’s Narayani guest house where its owner Vijay Singh allegedly shot at her. She later succumbed to injuries. The bench said that the matter be placed before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for assigning it before an appropriate bench on Thursday. PTI

Collegium defers call on Justice Joseph

The Supreme Court Collegium on Wednesday deferred a decision on the issue of reconsidering its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand Chief Justice KM Joseph as the judge of the apex court, after it was sent back by the government last week.

The five-member Collegium comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph met after the top court’s working hours, but no decision was taken. Besides Justice Joseph, the agenda of the Collegium was to deliberate on the names of some judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as apex court judges. Justice Chelameswar, who had not attended the court, came for the collegium meeting. There was no official word on when the Collegium would meet next.

Govt to restore lands denotified by Yeddyurappa

Bengaluru, dhns: Looks like the land denotification scam continues to haunt former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

In what is perceived to be a final attempt to target the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate ahead of the elections, the government has decided to restore more than 37 acres of land, denotified by Yeddyurappa.

Documents reveal that, in February 2018, the urban development department received a detailed report on 34 denotification orders passed by Yeddyurappa in 2010. Bengaluru Development Minister K J George has approved the report and ordered for the restoration of the land by issuing notices to the original land owners and also to hand over the probe to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

In one order, 8.22 acres of land was denotified in Hulimavu village at Begur hobli. The land in question was notified for BTM Layout 6th stage. The report states that the land in survey numbers 46/1, 45 and 50/3 was part of final notification and despite an adverse report, Yeddyurappa dropped this land from notification on June 5, 2010.

In another instance, an extent of 6.2 acres was dropped from acquisition in one denotification order. The land was in Kacharakanahalli (survey numbers 134 and 136) and was notified for HBR Layout 1st phase. Despite reports submitted to him stating that a final notification had been issued in respect to the land, Yeddyurappa dropped the entire 6.2 acres of land from notification on July 24, 2010.

In another order of denotification of a large extent of land, 5.2 acres in Herohalli village (survey number 67) was dropped from acquisition on April 7, 2010.

A senior official in the urban development department said while restoration of land has been initiated, the probe report has not yet been handed over to the ACB.

“It was decided to restore the lands to the government. The department had also decided to issue notices to original land owners after filing caveats in the courts to avoid unnecessary delay in resumption of lands. In one instance, a piece of land was denotified where sites were also allotted,’’ the official said.

9 get life term in J Dey murder case

MUMBAI: Seven years after journalist and writer J Dey was shot dead, underworld don Rajendra Nikhalje and eight others were jailed for life by a Mumbai court on Wednesday.

However, journalist Jigna Vora, the then Deputy Bureau Chief of Mumbai edition of The Asian Age, who was accused of provoking and instigating Chhota Rajan to kill Dey, was acquitted by the trial judge.

Jigna broke down in the courtroom after she was acquitted from the case. Another accused, Paulson Joseph, who reportedly provided SIM cards to the co-accused and arranged finances, too was acquitted by the court.

Dey, 56, the then Editor-Investigations of Mid-Day was shot dead on June 11, 2011, at the Powai central suburbs of Mumbai.

Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Adkar delivered the verdict in a jam-packed courtroom.

Besides Rajan, who is currently lodged in the Tihar Jail in Delhi, others who were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment were: Satish Kalia, Anil Waghmode, Abhijit Shinde, Nilesh Shedge, Arun Dhake, Mangesh Agawane, Sachin Gaikwad, Deepak Sisodia.

One of the accused Vinod Asrani alias Vinod Chembur, a bookie and builder, who financed the murder, had died during the course of the trial.

“Theek hai (alright),” was the brief reaction of Rajan – who was witnessing the proceedings via video-conferencing — when the sentence was passed by the judge.

“Dey was a journalist, who represented the fourth pillar of democracy…this should be treated as a rarest of the rare case…a strong message needs to go out,” Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat said.

Later, speaking to reporters, he refused to comment on the acquittal of Jigna. “We would be able to comment on it, once we see the copy of the verdict,” he said.

The accused were found guilty of 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 204 (destruction of evidence)of the Indian Penal Code besides provisions of the stringent Maharashtra Control for Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and the Arms Act.

Dey had authored two books – Khallas: An A to Z Guide to the Underworld and Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers – and was in the process of writing the third book – Chindi: Rags to Riches.

In the third book that Dey was writing, he had portrayed Rajan as “chindi” (inconsequential or petty) and not as “don” and this had apparently angered Rajan and he ordered the hit.

“I feel relieved,” the then Mumbai Police commissioner Arup Patnaik, who led the investigations, said. “I am sure the CBI will appeal against it in the higher court,” he said on the acquittals.

Gharat said his voice samples of Rajan taken in Tihar jail, where he is lodged, matched with the recordings of conversations he had with a journalist after the murder.

SC notice to Kasauli accused for officer’s killing

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued suo motu contempt notice to a man for reportedly killing a woman officer in Himachal Pradesh’s hill town Kasauli in broad daylight when she had gone to demolish unauthorised constructions on the apex court’s direction.

“This is something extremely serious…we might stop passing orders, if they start killing people,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The court took cognizance of newspaper reports stating that when Shail Bala Sharma, an officer with the town and country planning department, went to demolish unauthorised constructions at Narayani Guest House on Tuesday, the owner, Vijay Singh shot her dead and opened fire on another officer, leaving him seriously injured.

Amicus curiae, senior advocate P S Patwalia submitted that there have been threats galore to the officers of the Himachal Pradesh government against the compliance of the order passed by this court on April 17.

“It is quite clear that some of the appellants are acting with complete impunity and have absolutely no regard for the rule of law or the orders of this court,” the bench said.

In so far as Vijay Singh, owner of the guest house was concerned, he has committed a brazen act of defiance of the order of this court amounting to a challenge, the bench said.

The court issued a contempt notice to Singh, who is since absconding and requested the CJI to assign the matter to an appropriate bench for consideration on Thursday.

The court cited a video of the incident circulated in the media and wondered what
100s of people were doing when the accused brandished the revolver and shot the officer dead.

 

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