Chhota Rajan gets life term in 2001 murder of hotelier, his second after journalist J Dey’s killing

Chhota Rajan was arrested by the Indonesian police in October 2015 nearly three decades after he was on the run.

ByPTI

Published May 30, 2024 | 9:19 PMUpdatedMay 30, 2024 | 9:19 PM

Chhota Rajan

A special court in Mumbai on Thursday, 30 May, sentenced gangster Chhota Rajan to life imprisonment in the murder of hotelier Jaya Shetty in 2001, over six years after he was handed a similar sentence in the killing of journalist J Dey.

Special judge for cases under the Maharashtra Control Of Organised Crime Act, AM Patil, held Rajan guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and provisions of MCOCA.

Following the conviction, the court sentenced the gangster, currently lodged at Tihar jail in Delhi, to rigorous imprisonment for life and imposed a fine of 16 lakh on him.

Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, was arrested by the Indonesian police in October 2015 before his extradition from Bali to India. The gangster had spent nearly three decades on the run before his arrest and was believed to have been a former right-hand man of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

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Rajan convicted in seven cases so far

After Thursday’s judgment, Rajan has been convicted in seven cases, including six in the city, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Pradeep Gharat said. A special MCOCA court in 2018 sentenced Rajan to life imprisonment in the murder of senior crime journalist J Dey.

Shetty, who owned the Golden Crown Hotel at Gamdevi in central Mumbai, was shot dead on the hotel’s first floor on 4 May 2001.

According to the prosecution, the murder was committed by the members of an organised crime syndicate headed by Rajan. One Ajay Mohite, who was accompanied by Kundansingh Rawat of the syndicate, had shot Shetty. He was caught red-handed and found to be carrying deadly weapons. Though Rawat escaped from the spot, he was later reported dead.

Investigation showed that Pramod Dhonde, Rahul Pansare, and Sameer Manik (accused) had conspired to kill Jaya Shetty at the behest of gangsters Hemant Poojari and Rajan.

Before the case was taken by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Mumbai police had invoked stringent provisions of MCOCA because Rajan and Poojari faced several cases.

During the trial against Rajan, the prosecution examined 32 witnesses, including the victim’s sons.

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The prosecution’s case 

“The shooter was caught red-handed, faced trial and was convicted. The co-accused had confessed that they were working for Chhota Rajan. Moreover, there were extortion calls from Rajan to the victim. He had threatened to kill Shetty and his family if they failed to pay the extortion money. All these aspects were relied upon by the prosecution,” SPP Gharat said.

Jaya Shetty’s sons gave strong testimony against Rajan in the court, he said. One of his sons had testified before the court that his father was shot by two people at their Golden Crown Hotel.

“We have been receiving threats of extortion since 1999. Even threats were received from Hemant Poojari,” he had told the court. Further, he had deposed that when they reached the hotel after the shooting, they received a call from Poojari claiming that “tumhare father ka murder kar diya hai abhi tum log next”.

Poojari also claimed that he was making the extortion calls on Rajan’s orders, the SPP added.

In a separate trial, a special judge in 2004 sentenced shooter Mohite to life imprisonment. While Dhonde and Pansare were acquitted of the murder charge, each was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for extortion.

Manik, who was on the run, was apprehended in 2008 and was acquitted by the court that year. Poojari is still an absconding accused in the case. Rajan, already serving life imprisonment for the murder of J Dey in 2011, is currently lodged at the Tihar jail in Delhi.

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