Rajan had spilled the beans on scribe
After J Dey was shot, the don called up some journalists and businessmen to tell them how Jigna Vora passed on information about the crime reporter to him, say Crime Branch sources
It was none other than Chhota Rajan's phone calls after J Dey's murder that ultimately led to journalist Jigna Vora's arrest yesterday, according to Crime Branch officials.
Jigna (37), the deputy bureau chief of Asian Age, has been booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for aiding underworld don Chhota Rajan in the crime by sending him Dey's personal details.
Sources revealed that soon after bike-borne assassins gunned down Dey on June 11 near his home in Powai, Rajan was irked by some media reports and made calls to a few scribes and businessmen in the city.
In the course of the conversation, he named Jigna as the one who provided him with vital information on Dey.
"There are four to five such people (who were called by Rajan), including journalists and businessmen, all of whom have been made witnesses in the case.
We have recorded their statements on camera before the magistrate, under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)," said a senior Crime Branch official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Based on the witnesses' statements, officials who had been questioning Jigna over the past few months picked her up from her Ghatkopar home around 10.30 am.
Journalist Jigna Vora was arrested yesterday for passing on information about MiD DAY's investigations editor J Dey to Chhota Rajan
Her cell phone was immediately confiscated along with her computer. According to the officials, some technical evidence has been retrieved from the hard disk of her computer and her cell phone records.
Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said, "It is a sensitive and murky case involving two journalists. We have strong evidence to prove that the accused was involved in the conspiracy, based on which even the court has allowed us to take her into custody.
We had assured at the beginning of the case that we would arrest all those behind Dey's murder and ensure that they are convicted."
So far, the Crime Branch has arrested 10 persons accused in the case, all of whom were supposed to be charge-sheeted last month. The process was stalled as the cops came across fresh evidence implicating Jigna and requested the court to grant them 30 days' extension, which the court accepted.
"She had changed her statement on two occasions and there are major contradictions between both. We have electronic evidence and circumstantial evidence to prove that she had passed on the details to Rajan," said Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy.
Every minute detail
Crime Branch officials allege that Jigna helped Rajan's crime syndicate with personal details of Dey, based on which his murder was orchestrated. In their remand application, the police have mentioned that she had passed on Dey's email addresses, snaps of Dey's motocycle number plates and details of his movements in the city.
Jigna Vora being taken to court after her arrest yesterday
"The accused has been non-cooperative whenever she has been called for questioning. Hence, we need her in police custody so she can been interrogated about her role in the conspiracy," said public prosecutor Deepak Shah in the MCOCA court.
Defence lawyer Ganesh Kulkarni said, "My client has been questioned by the Crime Branch on several occasions and has been co-operating with the investigations.
The police have confiscated all mediums of communications, such as her cell phone and computer, which could have possibly been used to pass on information to the crime syndicates.
But till now, they have not produced any evidence in court to support their allegations, which gives strong indication that they have no concrete evidence against my client."
Kulkarni said before the court: "The call records that the police have retrieved from my client's phone pertain to an interview, which has been already published in the newspapers. The police are also not clear about the motive, and hence there is no question of passing on the information to Rajan."
After the defence's statement, the prosecutor produced fresh evidence before the court, following which Judge S M Modak went through the papers and then remanded Jigna in police custody till December 1. The court has, however, allowed that the accused not give her confessional statement while in custody.
Arrests so far
With her arrest, the number of those arrested for Dey's murder has now risen to 11. The police had arrested seven persons on June 27: Rohit Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya (34); Abhijeet Kasharam Shinde (28); Arun Janardan Dake (27); Sachin Suresh Gaikwad (27); Anil Bhanudas Waghmode (35); Nilesh Narayan Shedge alias Bablu (34) and Mangesh Damodar Agawane (25).
Vinod Asrani alias Vinod Chembur, a builder and bookie, was later arrested.
Paulson Joseph, another close aide of the gangster, and Deepak Sisodiya, who allegedly supplied the crime weapon, were also nabbed. The Crime Branch is likely to name Chhota Rajan and firearms supplier Nain Singh Bisht as wanted accused in the charge-sheet.
Charges to be faced
Vora has been booked under several charges, including Sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 34 (acts done by several persons), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence, or giving false information) of the IPC, Sections 3, 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, Sections 37 (1) (A) (prohibiting public gathering of more than five persons), 135 (burning effigy of the central government) of the Bombay Police Act and Sections 3(1), 3(2), 3(4) (organised crime) of MCOCA.