The Mumbai police crime branch on Monday released a sketch of one of the four assailants who murdered veteran crime journalist Jyotirmoy Dey in broad daylight on Saturday. The killer is in the 20-25 age group, of medium build, and about five-and-a-half feet tall. His complexion is dark and he was wearing a blue raincoat at the time of the crime.
According to police sources, the sketch, made late Sunday night, is based on descriptions provided by a witness in the case who not only saw the shooters but actually spoke to one of them seconds after the incident.
The witness has emerged as a key factor in the investigation after CCTV camera footage turned out to be very blurred and unusable. “A total of four CCTV cameras cover the spot where the shooting occurred and all four have captured the incident. However, the footage from all four cameras is blurred and hazy due to heavy rain on the day of the incident,” said an officer with the Powai police.
Consequently, the statement and description provided by eyewitness Javed Ansari is now turning out to be pivotal. “Mr Ansari was driving his car past D Mart when he heard gunshots behind him and braked. Looking behind, he saw four people on two motorcycles coming towards him and called out to them, asking what had happened. One of the pillion riders told him nothing was wrong and sped away,” said the officer.
However, Mr Ansari glanced in his rear-view mirror, saw Dey lying on the ground bleeding heavily and attempted to chase the motorcyclists. However, the heavy rain and slippery roads discouraged him from driving too fast and he abandoned his chase.
Meanwhile, Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik claimed the police has important leads in Dey’s killing and that they were expecting to make a breakthrough by late Monday evening. “We expect to get some kind of breakthrough by late Monday evening. There were too many theories floating around, but our investigations are now going in the right direction,” Mr Patnaik said.
So far 20 persons have been questioned in connection with the case. “All these persons are known to have alleged affiliations with the oil mafia and various gangs. We are questioning them to see what they know,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy. He added that the allegations against assistant commissioner of police Anil Mahabole of having played some role in the incident will also be probed.
On Monday, though, Mr Mahabole was transferred to the local arms unit control room. Police sources said he was shunted following at least three inquiries pending against him, including in the case in which senior journalist Tarakant Dwivedi, alias Akela, was arrested for an exposé on the Railways. Mr Mahabole was ACP, Azad Maidan division, before the transfer.
Senior sources in the crime branch rubbished the theory that a shooter of the Chhota Rajan gang was behind the attack. “Umed Ali, a Chhota Rajan aide, is certainly not behind the murder, and we believe that the underworld or the oil mafia is not involved either. We had called in Sadruddin (who runs an oil racket in Navi Mumbai) for questioning after there were allegations that he might be behind the attack but later let him go.
Dey had written many things about the underworld and was never attacked, the source said, adding that the crime branch is coordinating with the Intelligence Bureau in the case. The IB, the officer said, had told them it had not intercepted any conversations in underworld circles about anyone carrying out the operation.
The source said Dey had received a few international calls, made over the Internet, in the last fortnight. “We have now asked for records of all his phone calls of the last six months. Since the calls were made using VoIP we have been unable to trace the country from which the call was made,” he said. Asian Age