Mumbai, Nov. 25: A woman crime reporter was arrested today for allegedly abetting the contract killing of veteran journalist Jyotirmoy Dey and wept in the courtroom professing innocence while being remanded in a weeks police custody.
Jigna Vora, 37, deputy bureau chief of The Asian Age, is accused of passing information about Dey, including his motorcycle number, to Chhota Rajan who has claimed ordering the hit.
The 56-year-old Dey, editor (special investigations) with the tabloid Mid-Day, was riding his two-wheeler when bike-borne killers who had tailed him from home shot him on a Mumbai street in June.
Vora was arrested from her home and charged with conspiracy, murder, common intent and destruction of evidence apart from sections of stringent anti-crime law MCOCA.
(She) parted with information like photographs, emails, addresses, movements and vehicle number of the deceased, special public prosecutor Dileep Shah told the court as the accused, dressed in a red kurta, sobbed.
Shah alleged that Vora bore Dey a personal grudge and said the police wanted to know if she had passed the information directly to Rajan or his gang.
Vora, a divorcee, has a nine-year-old son who stays in boarding school. She briefly worked as a lawyer before becoming a journalist in 2005, working with the Free Press Journal and the tabloids Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror.
Primarily a court reporter, she developed underworld contacts during hearings and moved to full-time crime reporting at The Asian Age, a journalist friend said.
She worked with Mid-Day for five to six months as a court reporter when Dey headed the crime reporting department. They had separate beats and reported to different bosses. I dont remember seeing any interaction between them, forget any friction, a former colleague said.
The police claim Dey and Vora had once met at the home of a Chhota Rajan aide in Chembur and had a spat, ticking each other off for using the gangster as a source of underworld stories.
S. Hussain Zaidi, resident editor of The Asian Age and a crime reporter who once worked with Dey, said the newspaper would support Vora. We believe in her innocence. She is a woman of unimpeachable integrity.
Police commissioner Arup Patnaik said the arrest was not any indication of her guilt (and) was made to facilitate investigation into something prima facie against her.
The prosecution claimed it had electronic evidence and alleged Vora had contradicted herself and misled the police during earlier rounds of questioning.