Chhota Rajan Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For 2001 Murder Of Hotelier Jaya Shetty By Special MCOCA Court

Chhota Rajan Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For 2001 Murder Of Hotelier Jaya Shetty By Special MCOCA Court

After Rajan's extradition in 2015, the CBI, which had taken over 71 cases against him, had registered a fresh case against him and filed a chargesheet in 2019.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2024, 11:44 AM IST
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Indian gangster Chhota Rajan | PTI

The special MCOCA court on Thursday sentenced Rajendra Sadashive Nikalje, 67, alias Chhota Rajan, to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 16 lakh in connection with the murder of a hotelier, Jaya Shetty, in 2001. Interestingly, the prosecution had examined Rajan's key aide, Santosh Shetty, as one of the witnesses had revealed the role of Rajan and two of his men, Hemant Pujari and Bharat Nepali.

This was the second case wherein Rajan had been sentenced to life imprisonment, after the case of the murder of a crime journalist, Jyotirmoy Dey. So far, he has been held guilty in six cases, and trial is pending in seven to eight of the total 71 cases against him.

On May 4, 2001, assailants entered the Golden Crown hotel and shot the owner, Jaya Shetty, in his office on the first floor, as he had failed to pay Rs 50 lakh ransom money to Rajan. One of the shooters, Ajay Mohite, was caught on the spot while his accomplice, Kundansingh Rawat, managed to escape. Rawat was killed in an encounter two years later. Two more accused, Pramod Dhonde and Rahul Pansare, were caught subsequently.

Special MCOCA Judge A P Bhangale had sentenced Mohite to life imprisonment for murder, while the other two were sentenced to five years' imprisonment, only for extortion, in April 2004. The court had held them guilty based on the confession statement of Mohite and Pansare, who had admitted that they worked for Rajan and his aide, Hemant Pujari.

After Rajan's extradition in 2015, the CBI, which had taken over 71 cases against him, had registered a fresh case against him and filed a chargesheet in 2019. The special public prosecutor, Pradeep Gharat, had examined 32 witnesses, including the two sons of Jaya Shetty - Manohar and Mohan. The two gave details on how his father had been receiving calls from Pujari on behalf of Rajan, demanding ransom.

Manohar, in his deposition, had claimed that soon after the incident, Pujari had called and threatened them that after their father, they would be next and that he was calling on behalf of Rajan. He further said that his father had been receiving threats from Rajan through Pujari, who had been heading one of his factions since April 1999. After April 1999, Pujari had called him in August and December 1999. He claimed that Jaya Shetty had written around 17 letters starting from November 1999 to January 2001.The hotelier was also given police protection but it was withdrawn at his request two months prior to his murder.

However, after the murder, police protection was provided to both the sons. Apart from the two sons, another key witness was Rajan's lefthand man, Santosh Shetty, who had once saved his life when he was attacked by the members of Dawood Ibrahim's gang. Santosh had, in his deposition, claimed that between 2001 and 2002, he had met Pujari at Jakarta, where Pujari had disclosed that Rajan's aide Bharat Nepali had demanded extortion money from Jaya Shetty.He deposed that Pujari had further said that as Jaya Shetty did not pay heed to Nepali's demands, the latter asked Pujari to eliminate Jaya Shetty. Santosh claimed that thereafter, he was not aware of what had happened.

Gharat said, “As one of the shooters was caught from the spot, he faced trial and was sentenced to life. His confession was believed by the special judge who convicted him. Besides, there were many extortion callsfor which Jaya Shetty had made complaints to police. Besides, the testimony of his sons and Santosh Shettyhelped prove the link of Rajan in the case."

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