Mumbai: The Mumbai Police on Monday confirmed that underworld don Chhota Rajan was behind the murder of investigating journalist Jyotirmoy Dey.
Addressing a packed press conference here, Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said the Crime Branch has cracked the case and arrested all the seven shooters involved in the murder.
The Mumbai Police had earlier in the day identified five of the seven accused as Rupesh Tangapani alias Satish Kaliya, Anil Waghmode, Arun Dhake, Sachin Gaikwad and Mangesh Bagap.
All seven, who were arrested in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu late on Sunday, were produced before a local court today and remanded to police custody till July 04.
Himanshu Roy, Joint CP, Mumbai Police, told reporters that Satish Kaliya, 34, was the main shooter of the gang who organised the killing.
Roy said during the interrogation of the accused, it came to light that Chhota Rajan contacted Kaliya about 20 days before the murder on June 11. Rajan had then told Kaliya about a job that needed to be done, but didn’t tell him who was the target.
Rajan gave Kaliya the murder weapon, a .32 bore revolver of US make and rounds from Czech Republic. In addition, he also provided them Rs 2 lakh.
According to Roy, after collecting the money and weapon from Chembur and Kathgodam respectively, Kaliya then contacted Anil Waghmode who in turn then contacted the other five men.
After the seven-member team was in place, Rajan on June 06 called up Kaliya and gave him a description of the target and also provided the number of the motorcycle. He informed Kaliya that the target could be found either near Peninsula Centre (where the office of Mid-Day – Dey’s employer – was located) and the Hiranandani Complex.
The members of the gang then did a recce on June 07 and 08 and located the target but decided against carrying out the murder at Peninsula Centre as it was too crowded. On June 09 and 10, they searched for the target around Hiranandani Complex on three motorcycles and a Toyota Qualis but couldn’t locate him. However, on June 11 one team spotted the Dey near the Complex and started following him. Kaliya finally opened five rounds at Dey near Crisil House in suburban Powai. One of the bullets pierced Dey’s heart leading to his death.
Roy said it was noteworthy that even at this point of time the gang had no idea who was the target. They only came to know about him at night through TV reports when all seven of them gathered at a pre-decided place in Jogeshwari.
Kaliya then contacted Chhota Rajan and asked why they weren’t told about who the target was. To comfort the gang the underworld don offered them Rs 3 lakh more.
After collecting the extra money, two of the members stayed in Mumbai while rest of the five visited several temple towns in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
After receiving information, the Mumbai Police carried out raids and picked up gang members from Rameswaram, Solapur and Mumbai.
Roy told the press conference that they have recovered the main weapon used in the killing, the three motorcycles, the Qualis and Rs 20,000 in cash.
The killing of Dey, who worked for the Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day and specialised in the underworld, sparked days of demonstrations by journalists, putting pressure on the government to act. The Mumbai Police had set up several teams to track down the killers.