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Dey murder: did weapon come from Nepal?

Staff Reporter

Mumbai: The weapon used in the murder of senior reporter Jyotirmoy Dey could have come from Nepal. “We will verify the suspicion. According to the conversation I had with the Inspector-General of Police [in Nainital], there is an unverified suspicion that Chhota Rajan's network in Nainital may have organised the weapon from Nepal,” Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy said here on Wednesday.

He said a team of Crime Branch officials would soon visit Nainital for the probe. According to sources, Chhota Rajan has a very strong network in Nainital.

The main accused in the case, Rohee Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya (34), had told the police that he got the .32 American-made sophisticated weapon from Kathgodam a few days before the incident.

Police now strongly believe that Dey's trip to Europe is relevant for understanding the motive behind the killing. “It is the last most important thing that J Dey did. We believe that the foreign trip is relevant. Also, we have not been able to piece together the information about his trip. There are some things that we do not know yet,” a senior police officer said.

It is suspected that Dey may have met a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. On June 12, a day after the killing, police had questioned the tour guide of Raj Travels, who had accompanied Dey during the Europe visit between April 27 and May 5. “He told us that J Dey did meet some people in London. We have summoned him for interrogation. We will now show him the dossiers about the criminals available with us,” a senior police official said.

Mr. Roy said police were finding about the people Dey had met during the trip. “Generally, when one goes on a foreign trip, one also visits friends and relatives abroad. He may have met anyone. We are trying to investigate that,” he said.

Police have not been able to understand the reason behind the visit. “It was not an official tour. He himself paid for the tour, partly by cash, partly by credit card. Generally, a person does not go alone on pleasure trips like these. We are trying to understand the reason behind the trip,” a senior police officer said.

Dey travelled with a group of around 10 tourists from India to Europe. It is not known if he ever skipped the itinerary given by the tour operator to meet anyone.

Just five days before the killing, Dey had spoken on a long international call. Police are trying to verify whom he spoke to. Unconfirmed reports said that he possibly spoke to underworld gangster Chhota Rajan, who is believed to have been operating from a Southeast Asian country. Sources said that Dey had once interviewed Rajan on phone.

The police are also looking into the possible reasons behind Dey's proposed visit to the Philippines.

Police have not been able to trace the number from which Kalya received calls from Rajan. “They are all VoIP [Voice-over-Internet Protocol] calls. So we have not been able to trace them,” a senior officer said.

Of the 3,000 emails and 250 drafts found in Dey's email account, the police have now zeroed in on around 15-20 mails which they claim to be “important.” Police said the investigation is much more focused at this stage and the mails may give clues about the motive behind the killing.

The accused have said during the investigation that they rehearsed the plan for two days on June 9 and 10. “If need be, they were planning that one bike would block Dey's bike. But that was not needed as the incident took place on a rainy day and all the vehicles were slow,” Mr. Roy said.

On the day of the incident on June 11, Kalya called up Rajan twice. Once, within half an hour of the incident, allegedly claiming that the task was successfully completed and, for the second time, when he switched on the TV and came to know that they had killed a journalist, a senior police officer said.

Rajan's aide absconding

Pune-based businessman and an alleged aide of Rajan, D.K. Rao, is absconding. He had already been interrogated once initially, but police said they would trace him to interrogate him further.

Mr. Roy told reporters here on Wednesday that there was a possibility of more arrests in the case. “We are looking out for those who handed over money to the accused through a hawala transaction, the one who handed over the weapon. We will also include Chhota Rajan's name in the charge sheet,” he said.

Police will keep tabs on the legal expenditure of the seven accused. “We have come to know that the accused have been told that their family members will be taken care of. They have also apparently been told that their legal fees will be paid. We will keep a watch on how the bills will be paid,” a senior officer said.

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