Justice for J Dey: Lot of people took a dig at my character, says Jigna Vora
As she walks out a free woman, a relieved Jigna Vora says she was unfairly implicated in the case
Ninety minutes before the verdict, acquitted journalist Jigna Vora was already outside Court No. 57, seated alone on a rickety wooden chair, fidgeting with her fingers. Having spent years walking through the maze of this courthouse as a crime reporter, she successfully managed to evade the media stationed below the sessions court in Kala Ghoda that had been anticipating her arrival.
Sources had learnt that Vora had left her home in Ghatkopar in a pink salwaar kameez and was to arrive in court by 10.30 am. But, while everyone expectantly waited at the entrance of the court building, hoping to waylay Vora for a byte, she managed to sneak in half-an-hour earlier from another entrance to the top floor. When approached by a familiar face — a former colleague — Vora couldn't hold back her tears. "I am really nervous," she said, between sobs. Her parents and grandparents, who over the last seven years ran from pillar to post seeking justice for Vora, are not alive to see what awaits her on judgment day. "But, my entire family is here to support me," she said.
As the crowd of mediapersons and lawyers trickled in, Vora quickly went inside the courtroom, refusing to be in the same company of group that she had once, considered her own. The sentiment outside, however, was unanimous. "Jigs [as she was called by colleagues] will be let off," one said. This confidence didn't show on Vora's face, though she had admitted to the colleague that the evidence against her was thin.
The proceedings began only an hour later at 11.30 on Wednesday morning, after a delay in bringing the other arrested accused — Rohit Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya, Abhijeet Kasharam Shinde, Arun Janardhan Dake, Sachin Suresh Gaikwad, Anil Bhanudas Waghmode, Nilesh Narayan Shendge alias Bablu, Mangesh Damodar Agawane, Deepak Sisodia — to court. The judgment, however, came quickly — even before people could settle down for the day's proceedings.
Jigna Vora seen leaving from the Sessions Court yesterday after she was acquitted of all charges. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Vora, whose family remained outside the courtroom for want of space, waited next to fellow accused Joseph Paulson. In those anxious moments, Vora could be seen breaking down time and again, only to be comforted by her lawyer that "it was coming to end very soon".
When, finally, judge Sameer Adkar read out that accused 10 and 11, had been "acquitted of all charges" did people see a semblance of a smile on her face. To a friend, who assured her that justice had prevailed, Vora said, "Not everyone is going to be happy with the verdict. A lot of people took digs at my character. It wasn't fair." Her disappointment, especially with the press was evident as mediapersons huddled closer in an attempt to speak with her, only to be given a cold shoulder. Paulson, who was also acquitted, said he felt betrayed by many people. "We hadn't done anything wrong. We were dragged into this," he said.
Rajan stays unaffected
While the other accused looked shattered as the prosecution argued for strict sentencing, Chhota Rajan, the key accused in the murder, who made an appearance via video conference, seemed unaffected. When the judge read out his verdict, he responded smugly, saying, "Theek hain." The final sentencing was to be given four hours later at 4.30 pm, but Vora, who had been asked to wait till the end of the day, was seen rushing to her family, to check if they had informed her son. When a constable tried to stop her from leaving the security gate, she told him, "I am free now. I have been acquitted." A senior cop, not wanting to burst her bubble, ordered, "Let her go."
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