Mumbai: A special MCOCA court on Wednesday awarded lifetime imprisonment to extradited gangster Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan for killing a senior city journalist Jyotirmoy Dey in June 2011. The special court has also convicted eight others, who shot Dey to death, at the behest of Rajan. The court has convicted Rajan and his associates under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
The court has, however, acquitted two accused, one of which is Jigna Vora, the female journalist who was privy to the deadly conspiracy hatched by Rajan and his aides. Apart from Vora, the court has also acquitted Paulson Joseph Palitara, who was charge-sheeted for financing the entire operation to kill the journalist.
Incidentally, this is one of the major convictions for Rajan, who was absconding for nearly two decades and was brought back to India only in November 2015 after his arrest in Indonesia. Earlier this year, Rajan was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a Delhi court for possessing illegal passports.
When special Judge Sameer Adkar read out the sentence to Rajan, who was produced via video conferencing from Tihar Jail in Delhi, the gangster only responded with a bland ‘theek hai’ (all right).
According to the CBI – the prosecuting agency — Rajan had hatched the conspiracy to kill Dey as he was miffed with some articles written by the slain journalist. The agency had claimed in its supplementary chargesheet filed in 2016 that Rajan was unhappy with Dey for highlighting the image of his rival Dawood Ibrahim.
Another reason for Dey’s murder was his planned book, wherein Rajan was portrayed as a ‘chindi’ (petty) criminal. The book, “Chindi – Rags to Riches”, was supposed to recount stories of about 20 gangsters who rose from humble origins. As per the chargesheet, nearly Rs. 200,000 cash was given in advance to the contract killers and Rs. 500,000 after the murder.
“Chhota Rajan has admitted that till 1993 he was working with Dawood and after the Mumbai blasts he went his own way. This reinforces the belief that he was indulging in unlawful activities even at that time. Chhota Rajan was the mastermind of this offence. Therefore, the continuance of the unlawful activity at the instance of Chhota Rajan is proved. He is the head of the Organized Crime Syndicate,” the court noted.
The court also felt that by committing the murder a clear message was being sent to the media, the general public and even his rivals that the Chhota Rajan gang was ‘very much alive and kicking.’
“Nobody should dare to say anything against him (Rajan) and if anybody dared to do so, then he would meet the same fate as J. Dey,’’judge Adkar observed in his 599-page judgement. The special court has imposed a hefty fine of Rs 27 lakh each on all the convicts, making it a cumulative fine of Rs 2.49 crores. The court has also granted a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Leena Dey, sister of the slain journalist.