Mumbai: After absconding for more than two decades and spreading terror across Mumbai, underworld gangster Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan’s fate will be decided on Wednesday by a special court.
Rajan, who was extradited to India in November 2015, is likely to be convicted by a special MCOCA court for orchestrating the murder of senior journalist Jyotirmay Dey. He is facing charges of murder and criminal conspiracy, was booked under MCOCA due to his thriving ‘crime syndicate,’ and also charged under provisions of the Arms Act case.
According to the CBI, Rajan hatched the conspiracy to kill Dey as he was miffed with some articles written by the slain journalist. The agency claimed in its supplementary charge sheet filed in 2016 that Rajan was unhappy with Dey for highlighting the image of his rival and fugitive gangster 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 had risen from humble origins. As per the charge sheet, nearly Rs 200,000 in cash had been given in advance to contract killers and Rs 500,000 was to be given after Dey’s murder. The trial began in 2012; however, Rajan has faced the trial only after his arrest and extradition. Apart from Rajan, 10 other accused, including a female journalist, are in the dock.
During the course of the trial, Rajan had claimed that ‘some’ police officials and politicians had colluded with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and framed him in several cases under his guidance. According to Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat, Rajan’s role in the case was established from the testimony of prosecution witnesses, including confessions of the co-accused. “The major evidence against him (Rajan) is his own extra-judicial confession to the investigating team. Also, his intercepted call is another evidence against him wherein he is heard informing his friend about the conspiracy.”
“We have examined at least 150 witnesses from our side. These include six journalists and nearly 10 police officials, including former police commissioner of Mumbai – Arup Patnaik. Out of the total 150 witnesses, nearly 10 witnesses turned hostile,” Gharat added. The CBI has filed two charge sheets in the case, which runs into more than 5,000 pages.