Sixteen days after journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was gunned down in front of his residence, the Mumbai Police claimed on Monday to have cracked the case, arresting seven assailants deputed by fugitive don Chhota Rajan.
The police, however, are not yet sure of the motive. “We will go deep into the case and establish the reason behind the murder in the coming days,” Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik told a press conference.Dey (56), who had covered crime, especially the Mumbai underworld, all through his two-decade-long career, had been gunned down on June 11.
Joint commissioner, crime, Himanshu Roy identified the seven alleged killers as Rohit Thangappan Joseph (34) alias Satish Kaliya, Abhijit Shinde (28), Arun Dake (27), Sachin Gaikwad (27), Anil Waghmode (35), Nilesh Shendge (34) and Mangesh Agwane (25).
While Kaliya, Waghmode and Shinde were arrested from Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Shendge was arrested from Solapur in Maharashtra. Dake, Gaikwad and Agawane were arrested from Dharavi in Mumbai. All of them were produced before a magistrate and were remanded to police custody till July 4.
Roy said the murder weapon — a .32 bore US-made revolver — was recovered from Kaliya along with 22 live rounds and 5 used shells.
He said 20 days prior to the murder, Kaliya, an old associate of Rajan, received a call from the don.
Kaliya, who already had three murder and one attempted murder cases against him, confessed that Rajan had paid Rs 5 lakh for eliminating Dey. He also said Rajan had only given the description of the target, but did not reveal that Dey was a journalist.
The killers had used three motorcycles and a Toyota SUV for back-up. Roy said the police had seized the weapon, vehicles, 10 cell phones and Rs 20,000 in cash from them.
Roy said the accused were identified by scrutinising the list of known underworld operatives, who were missing from their usual areas of operation.
"Once we came to know that some of those — including Kaliya – were not spotted in the city after the murder, we zeroed in on them.”
The police learnt that the accused had kept changing their locations. “They travelled to Pawagad (in Gujarat), Shirdi, Akkalkot, Yadgir (Karnataka), Bijapur, Sangli, Bangalore, Madurai and Rameshwaram.
They also planned to visit Tirupati before the crime branch sleuths closed in on them at Rameshwaram.