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CBI files closure report in 46 of 71 cases against gangster Chhota Rajan

Five-and-half years after his deportation to India, a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on April 22 acquitted underworld don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan in the two-decade-old Hanif Kadawala murder case
PUBLISHED ON APR 30, 2021 01:11 AM IST

Five-and-half years after his deportation to India, a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on April 22 acquitted underworld don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan in the two-decade-old Hanif Kadawala murder case.

Kadawala, an accused in the March 1993 Mumbai bombings case, had allegedly helped Sanjay Dutt hide an AK-47 rifle that was delivered to the actor. Kadawala was also accused to have transported weapons to Mumbai on the instructions of Tiger Menon, the prime conspirator in the blasts case, which were meant to be used for the bombings.

Kadawala was shot dead on February 7, 2001, in his office.

The special court acquitted the gangster after the investigating officer of the case revealed that one of the accused in the case, Yusuf Bachkana, who acquitted in 2004, had claimed that Kadawala was killed at the instance of his elder brother Farooq.

The Kadawala murder case was Rajan’s sixth trial concluded so far after his extradition. The gangster has so far been also convicted in three other cases, including journalist J Dey’s murder case, in which he has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

On March 16, a special MCOCA court had convicted Rajan and six members of his gang for firing at bookie-turned-builder Ajay Gosaliya in 2013. The same day, special judge AT Wankhede sentenced Rajan, his financer Kaushik Rajgaur, sharpshooter Satish Kalia, as well as Sunilkumar alias Piyush Tiwari, Vilas Singh, Arvind Shinde and Prakash Nikak – who executed the plan – to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. The court also imposed fine of 5 lakh on each of them.

Rajan has so far been convicted in four cases, which includes the murder of journalist J Dey, cases of firing at builders BR Shetty and Ajay Gosalia. In Dey’s murder case, Rajan has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Rajan has been, however, acquitted in fisherman John Pareira’s murder case. It was one of the oldest cases against the gangster, which was decided by the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in June 2018. On February 21, 1983, a murder case was registered with the Santacruz police station after John Pareira, 35, was stabbed at Juhu beach, allegedly over disputes on smuggling business.

After Rajan was deported from Bali in November 2015, the Centre, with the consent of the Maharashtra government, issued a notification transferring all cases against him to CBI.

Mumbai Police had listed 71 cases against Rajan which were transferred to CBI on November 21, 2015. Of the 71 cases, CBI has already filed closure report in 46 cases before the respective special MCOCA and magistrate courts set up to try the gangster.

“We have closed several old cases where it was not possible to trace witnesses and collect further evidence. We had no material. It was not possible to obtain primary evidence like the call data records of the accused involved in the crime and others connected in such old cases,” said advocate Pradeep Gharat, who is appointed as the special public prosecutor to conduct trials in cases against Rajan.

Gharat said most of the cases of extortion, which were transferred to magistrate courts, had also been closed for want of evidence.

“In most of these cases, complainants have either died or are not traceable. Further, the officers could not get any key evidence to put up before the court,” Gharat added.

Rajan’s lawyer Tushar Khandare, however said, “Rajan was never involved in the cases in which the agency has filed closure report. In many of these cases, his name was misused and the crimes were committed without his knowledge. As he was not in India, the agencies could never verify his role. It was only after extradition, facts became evident, and it was found that he was not involved.”

The cases which are closed are mostly old cases of gang rivalry and murders of businessmen who refused to give in to Rajan’s demands. In one such case, businessman Sham Sunder Raj was shot on July 3, 1995, in his office. He was seriously injured and died later. In another case, two unidentified shooters fired bullets at Ashok Krishna Shetty, a cousin of Karianna Shetty, the owner of the Ashoka Hotel, on May 27, 1993.

In another case, Chembur resident Bala Kotian was shot dead on October 7, 1998, in was primarily a case of gang war.

Similarly, a case registered in 1997 for conspiring to kill senior journalist Baljeet Parmar has also been closed. The prosecution claimed that they could not trace witnesses in the case.

Among the pending cases, Rajan is facing trial in the murder cases of hotelier Jaya Shetty, union leader Datta Samant and builder Majid Khan.

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