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J Dey Murder: Rajan Convicted, Vora Let Off – All You Need to Know

J Dey was gunned down in Powai, Mumbai, on 11 June 2011. 

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Explainers
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J Dey Murder: Rajan Convicted, Vora Let Off – All You Need to Know
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Snapshot

Seven years after Mid-Day crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey – or J Dey, as he was better known – was gunned down in broad daylight, a special MCOCA court in Mumbai sentenced Chhota Rajan and eight others to life for his murder, on Wednesday, 2 May. However, the court acquitted Asian Age journalist Jigna Vora.

Vora and Rajan were the two prime accused in the case.

On 11 June 2011, the bystanders at Hiranandani, Powai, had watched J Dey get shot multiple times in the back by unidentified assassins on a motorcycle. Dey was shot by a seven-member gang affiliated to Rajan.

While the case was first placed in the hands of the Mumbai police, who successfully filed charges against Rajan and Vora, among several others, it was taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2016.

Here’s a quick recap of the case.

J Dey Murder: Rajan Convicted, Vora Let Off – All You Need to Know

  1. 1. Who Was Jyotirmoy Dey?

    Jyotimoy Dey – popular known as J Dey among the media circuits – was a senior investigative crime reporter with the Mid-Day newspaper. Dey knew the ongoings of the Mumbai underworld, and had an expansive network of sources which brought him frequent updates on the latest developments.

    According to Tehelka magazine, Dey began a career in journalism as a freelancer for the Afternoon Despatch & Courier and Mid-Day in the early 1990s. At the time, he mostly wrote on forest encroachment and man-animal conflict. It was only in 1996 that he joined The Indian Express and specialised in crime reporting.

    Dey rejoined Mid-Day soon after as a crime and investigative reporter.

    Fellow colleagues and others familiar with his work described Dey as a quiet, observant and hard-working journalist, who worked round-the-clock and always protected his sources.

    Dey had published two books –Khallas and Zero Dial

    He had married journalist Shubha Sharma and lived in an apartment in Powai, Mumbai.

    On 11 June 2011, Dey was gunned down by then unknown assailants, near D-Mart in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Investigation later revealed that these assailants were the affiliate gang-members of Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, better known as Chhota Rajan, a known face of the Mumbai underworld and once a right-hand man of most wanted criminal and terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. 

    Dey had reportedly written many a story on Rajan, even calling him chindi (cheap) in one of his articles. Before he was murdered, Dey had also written about the oil mafia in Maharashtra.

    He also exposed the illegal activities that several personnel of the Mumbai police had been involved in, something which tarnished the reputation of the concerned persons and made him a threat, reported Tehelka.

    But it was his connection to Rajan that led to the beginning of his tragic end.

    A report by journalist Ruhi Khan, that was published on the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), described Dey as “a journalist par excellence.” Khan, who had known Dey personally, said he was a “man of intelligence and maturity, always composed and dignified.”

    Expand
  2. 2. What Was the Motive? How Was He Murdered?

    According to Tehelka magazine, Chhota Rajan, the prime accused in the murder of J Dey, had reportedly confessed to the crime on national television. On 1 July 2011, Rajan had reportedly called up a Hindi news channel and backed up the allegations put forth by the Mumbai police against him.

    On the same day, NDTV reported that a man claiming to be Chhota Rajan called up the office and said that he had indeed killed Dey because the journalist had “crossed his limit” and circulated wrong news about the former.

    According to DNA, Dey’s murder was allegedly planned down to the last detail by Rajan. On 22 May, Rajan had reportedly contacted Satish Kalya and given him details of Dey’s Parel office and Powai residence as well as the number plate of his motorcycle, ordering Kalya to gun him down.

    Kalya organised a seven-member team, which, according to the report, included his accomplice Anil Waghmode. He had asked his gang to arrange vehicles and also procure a .32 bore revolver and 25 cartridges. They then conduct a recee of his residence in Powai between 6 and 9 June. Three days later, the team hired to kill Dey followed him on motorcycles and a Toyota Qualis car around Powai, as he was running a few errands.

    The motorcycle on which Kalya was riding on, edged the closest and he shot five rounds of bullets at Dey’s back. Dey was taken to Hiranandani Hospital, which declared him brought dead.

    On the surface, the Tehelka report ads, Rajan presented the public with two reasons as a motive to kill Dey:

    • Rajan believed that Dey was involved with Dawood Ibrahim and his gang, from whom he had infamously estranged. He also said that Dey was involved with the ISI.
    • Rajan said a woman journalist named Jigna Vora, who the police later said was a professional rival of Dey’s, had “instigated” him into taking action against the journalist.

    According to a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the CBI, who took over the case in 2016, Dey was writing a book named Chindi – Rags to Riches, which was a compilation of stories of 20 gangsters with humble origins – Rajan was one of the 20.

    Quoting the charge-sheet, NDTV reported:

    Mr Dey was going to expose the fake patriotic mask used by him (Rajan) to secure himself and to accumulate wealth for his family. The book was to have that Rajan had no concern for those who made him big.

    The CBI said that the book was also expected to portray Rajan’s arch-enemy, Dawood Ibrahim, as being “superior” to him. And upon hearing these rumours, Rajan had asked Dey to meet him but the journalist declined. Rajan had also called Dey a “traitor,” in an intercepted conversation recorded by the CBI later.

    The charge-sheet filed by the CBI also said that Rajan believed Dey was working for Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI.

    Dey continued writing stories against me… that my gang has become weak, I’m keeping sick, my loyal people have left me, etc. Hence I got an impression that he was working for the Dawood gang. I tried to convince him, but he didn’t listen. I’m not sure whether he really was close to Dawood. But his writings made me feel like that. But now I regret killing him. Anyway, there is no point in discussing that episode.
    Chhota Rajan to a Hindi news channel, as reported by Tehelka
    Chhota Rajan and his wife, Sujata Nikhalje, are seen with Dawood Ibrahim and his wife, Mehjabeen (extreme right), during Rajan’s wedding in Dubai in 1987.
    (Photo Courtesy: Quora) 

    According to Tehelka, Rajan’s motive for allegedly killing Dey was more personal. A senior officer from the Mumbai police told the magazine that a little before he was murdered, Dey had been working on an expose on the new woman Rajan was reportedly having an affair with.

    Rajan, who possibly wished to avoid an estrangement with his first wife, Sujata, who handled the gang’s finances, had asked Dey to kill the story. However, Dey did not pay heed to Rajan, who then resorted to Plan B – removing Dey from the picture once and for all – so that the story and several other incriminating ones would never see the light of day.

    Expand
  3. 3. Who Is Jigna Vora and What Is Her Connection to the Case?

    Journalist Jigna Vora, an accused in the J Dey murder case.
    (Photo Courtesy: ProKerala)

    In a sensational twist to the case, the Mumbai police arrested journalist Jigna Vora, who at the time was a 37-year old deputy bureau chief of Asian Age. According to Tehelka, the police found ‘circumstantial’ evidence to implicate Vora in the case, which included three calls made to Chhota Rajan in a span of 48 hours.

    While Vora’s editor, Hussain Zaidi, had clarified that these calls were made for interview purposes for the newspaper, the police seemed keen to withhold that information. According to Tehelka, a “smear campaign” of sorts was launched against Vora, maligning her as a bitter, professional rival who wished to see Dey dead, a single mother with “questionable morals.”

    Rajan’s call to the media, placing the blame for the murder on Vora, saying that she had “instigated” him into taking action against Dey, only seemed to confirm the police’s theory. The motive for her involvement, according to what Rajan told the media, was professional rivalry.

    However, there are certain facts that counter this simplified conclusion. Sachin Kalbag, the then executive editor of Mid-Day told India Today, “Dey was far too senior and Vora far too junior for them to have any rivalry.”

    Knowing Dey’s personality, I doubt if he ever even spoke to Jigna while she was in Mid-Day. Vora was covering the court beat and was reporting to Prasad Patil, the then Mid-Day chief reporter; Dey reported directly to the editor.
    Sachin Kalbag, executive editor, Mid-Day, to India Today

    According to the Mumbai police, Vora had shared details of Dey’s home and work address, as well as the number plate of his motorcycle.

    Vora was booked on charges of murder and conspiracy by the Mumbai police, under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), on 25 November 2011.

    According to The Hindu, Vora got bail and was later released from prison in July 2012. The grounds for her release centred around the fact that she had a child to look after, being a single parent, and that her detention was not required since the prosecution hadn’t made a strong argument for denying her relief.

    Expand
  4. 4. Where Does the Case Stand Right Now?

    The Mumbai police had filed a 3,055-page charge-sheet in December 2011 that named 10 persons, including Rajan and Asian Age journalist Jigna Vora, as the accused. The charge-sheet, which includes the accounts of 34 eyewitnesses, also named Rohee Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya (34), the sharpshooter of the Chhota Rajan gang who allegedly shot Dey.

    Abhijeet Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad and Anil Waghmode, other members of the Chhota Rajan's hit squad who had recceed the parking lot where Dey would often park his motorbike, were also named in the charge-sheet, reported NDTV.

    The Mumbai Police framed charges of murder and conspiracy, as well as for carrying arms and explosives, against all the accused. 

    On 7 January 2016, Chhota Rajan was produced before a special court via video conferencing from Tihar jail, due to a warrant issued by Special Judge AL Pansare, on 22 December 2015.

    According to NDTV, Pansare then proceeded to explain the case to him in detail and informed him that the next date of hearing would be January 2017, where charges would be framed against him. Rajan had requested that he not be sent to Mumbai, as his life was under threat there.

    Meanwhile, in 2016, the CBI had requested the court for permission to continue further investigations into the case, which the court granted.

    In September 2016, a special MCOCA court framed charges against Rajan under various sections of the MCOCA as well as Sections 302 (murder) and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. 

    The final verdict in the case was announced on Wednesday, 2 May. While the court convicted Rajan for the murder, Vora was let off.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Who Was Jyotirmoy Dey?

Jyotimoy Dey – popular known as J Dey among the media circuits – was a senior investigative crime reporter with the Mid-Day newspaper. Dey knew the ongoings of the Mumbai underworld, and had an expansive network of sources which brought him frequent updates on the latest developments.

According to Tehelka magazine, Dey began a career in journalism as a freelancer for the Afternoon Despatch & Courier and Mid-Day in the early 1990s. At the time, he mostly wrote on forest encroachment and man-animal conflict. It was only in 1996 that he joined The Indian Express and specialised in crime reporting.

Dey rejoined Mid-Day soon after as a crime and investigative reporter.

Fellow colleagues and others familiar with his work described Dey as a quiet, observant and hard-working journalist, who worked round-the-clock and always protected his sources.

Dey had published two books –Khallas and Zero Dial

He had married journalist Shubha Sharma and lived in an apartment in Powai, Mumbai.

On 11 June 2011, Dey was gunned down by then unknown assailants, near D-Mart in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Investigation later revealed that these assailants were the affiliate gang-members of Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, better known as Chhota Rajan, a known face of the Mumbai underworld and once a right-hand man of most wanted criminal and terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. 

Dey had reportedly written many a story on Rajan, even calling him chindi (cheap) in one of his articles. Before he was murdered, Dey had also written about the oil mafia in Maharashtra.

He also exposed the illegal activities that several personnel of the Mumbai police had been involved in, something which tarnished the reputation of the concerned persons and made him a threat, reported Tehelka.

But it was his connection to Rajan that led to the beginning of his tragic end.

A report by journalist Ruhi Khan, that was published on the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), described Dey as “a journalist par excellence.” Khan, who had known Dey personally, said he was a “man of intelligence and maturity, always composed and dignified.”

ADVERTISEMENT

What Was the Motive? How Was He Murdered?

According to Tehelka magazine, Chhota Rajan, the prime accused in the murder of J Dey, had reportedly confessed to the crime on national television. On 1 July 2011, Rajan had reportedly called up a Hindi news channel and backed up the allegations put forth by the Mumbai police against him.

On the same day, NDTV reported that a man claiming to be Chhota Rajan called up the office and said that he had indeed killed Dey because the journalist had “crossed his limit” and circulated wrong news about the former.

According to DNA, Dey’s murder was allegedly planned down to the last detail by Rajan. On 22 May, Rajan had reportedly contacted Satish Kalya and given him details of Dey’s Parel office and Powai residence as well as the number plate of his motorcycle, ordering Kalya to gun him down.

Kalya organised a seven-member team, which, according to the report, included his accomplice Anil Waghmode. He had asked his gang to arrange vehicles and also procure a .32 bore revolver and 25 cartridges. They then conduct a recee of his residence in Powai between 6 and 9 June. Three days later, the team hired to kill Dey followed him on motorcycles and a Toyota Qualis car around Powai, as he was running a few errands.

The motorcycle on which Kalya was riding on, edged the closest and he shot five rounds of bullets at Dey’s back. Dey was taken to Hiranandani Hospital, which declared him brought dead.

On the surface, the Tehelka report ads, Rajan presented the public with two reasons as a motive to kill Dey:

  • Rajan believed that Dey was involved with Dawood Ibrahim and his gang, from whom he had infamously estranged. He also said that Dey was involved with the ISI.
  • Rajan said a woman journalist named Jigna Vora, who the police later said was a professional rival of Dey’s, had “instigated” him into taking action against the journalist.

According to a supplementary charge-sheet filed by the CBI, who took over the case in 2016, Dey was writing a book named Chindi – Rags to Riches, which was a compilation of stories of 20 gangsters with humble origins – Rajan was one of the 20.

Quoting the charge-sheet, NDTV reported:

Mr Dey was going to expose the fake patriotic mask used by him (Rajan) to secure himself and to accumulate wealth for his family. The book was to have that Rajan had no concern for those who made him big.

The CBI said that the book was also expected to portray Rajan’s arch-enemy, Dawood Ibrahim, as being “superior” to him. And upon hearing these rumours, Rajan had asked Dey to meet him but the journalist declined. Rajan had also called Dey a “traitor,” in an intercepted conversation recorded by the CBI later.

The charge-sheet filed by the CBI also said that Rajan believed Dey was working for Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI.

Dey continued writing stories against me… that my gang has become weak, I’m keeping sick, my loyal people have left me, etc. Hence I got an impression that he was working for the Dawood gang. I tried to convince him, but he didn’t listen. I’m not sure whether he really was close to Dawood. But his writings made me feel like that. But now I regret killing him. Anyway, there is no point in discussing that episode.
Chhota Rajan to a Hindi news channel, as reported by Tehelka
Chhota Rajan and his wife, Sujata Nikhalje, are seen with Dawood Ibrahim and his wife, Mehjabeen (extreme right), during Rajan’s wedding in Dubai in 1987.
(Photo Courtesy: Quora) 

According to Tehelka, Rajan’s motive for allegedly killing Dey was more personal. A senior officer from the Mumbai police told the magazine that a little before he was murdered, Dey had been working on an expose on the new woman Rajan was reportedly having an affair with.

Rajan, who possibly wished to avoid an estrangement with his first wife, Sujata, who handled the gang’s finances, had asked Dey to kill the story. However, Dey did not pay heed to Rajan, who then resorted to Plan B – removing Dey from the picture once and for all – so that the story and several other incriminating ones would never see the light of day.

ADVERTISEMENT

Who Is Jigna Vora and What Is Her Connection to the Case?

Journalist Jigna Vora, an accused in the J Dey murder case.
(Photo Courtesy: ProKerala)

In a sensational twist to the case, the Mumbai police arrested journalist Jigna Vora, who at the time was a 37-year old deputy bureau chief of Asian Age. According to Tehelka, the police found ‘circumstantial’ evidence to implicate Vora in the case, which included three calls made to Chhota Rajan in a span of 48 hours.

While Vora’s editor, Hussain Zaidi, had clarified that these calls were made for interview purposes for the newspaper, the police seemed keen to withhold that information. According to Tehelka, a “smear campaign” of sorts was launched against Vora, maligning her as a bitter, professional rival who wished to see Dey dead, a single mother with “questionable morals.”

Rajan’s call to the media, placing the blame for the murder on Vora, saying that she had “instigated” him into taking action against Dey, only seemed to confirm the police’s theory. The motive for her involvement, according to what Rajan told the media, was professional rivalry.

However, there are certain facts that counter this simplified conclusion. Sachin Kalbag, the then executive editor of Mid-Day told India Today, “Dey was far too senior and Vora far too junior for them to have any rivalry.”

Knowing Dey’s personality, I doubt if he ever even spoke to Jigna while she was in Mid-Day. Vora was covering the court beat and was reporting to Prasad Patil, the then Mid-Day chief reporter; Dey reported directly to the editor.
Sachin Kalbag, executive editor, Mid-Day, to India Today

According to the Mumbai police, Vora had shared details of Dey’s home and work address, as well as the number plate of his motorcycle.

Vora was booked on charges of murder and conspiracy by the Mumbai police, under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), on 25 November 2011.

According to The Hindu, Vora got bail and was later released from prison in July 2012. The grounds for her release centred around the fact that she had a child to look after, being a single parent, and that her detention was not required since the prosecution hadn’t made a strong argument for denying her relief.

ADVERTISEMENT

Where Does the Case Stand Right Now?

The Mumbai police had filed a 3,055-page charge-sheet in December 2011 that named 10 persons, including Rajan and Asian Age journalist Jigna Vora, as the accused. The charge-sheet, which includes the accounts of 34 eyewitnesses, also named Rohee Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya (34), the sharpshooter of the Chhota Rajan gang who allegedly shot Dey.

Abhijeet Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad and Anil Waghmode, other members of the Chhota Rajan's hit squad who had recceed the parking lot where Dey would often park his motorbike, were also named in the charge-sheet, reported NDTV.

The Mumbai Police framed charges of murder and conspiracy, as well as for carrying arms and explosives, against all the accused. 

On 7 January 2016, Chhota Rajan was produced before a special court via video conferencing from Tihar jail, due to a warrant issued by Special Judge AL Pansare, on 22 December 2015.

According to NDTV, Pansare then proceeded to explain the case to him in detail and informed him that the next date of hearing would be January 2017, where charges would be framed against him. Rajan had requested that he not be sent to Mumbai, as his life was under threat there.

Meanwhile, in 2016, the CBI had requested the court for permission to continue further investigations into the case, which the court granted.

In September 2016, a special MCOCA court framed charges against Rajan under various sections of the MCOCA as well as Sections 302 (murder) and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. 

The final verdict in the case was announced on Wednesday, 2 May. While the court convicted Rajan for the murder, Vora was let off.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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