Who is Jigna Vora, journalist whose arrest and acquittal inspired Netflix's 'Scoop'

Vora was accused of conspiring with Chhota Rajan to kill crime reporter J Dey


One of the eagerly-awaited Netflix releases this Friday is Scoop, directed by filmmaker Hansal Mehta. The series is based on the real life story of Mumbai-based journalist Jigna Vora, who was arrested for allegedly conspiring with gangster Chhota Rajan in the killing of veteran crime reporter J Dey in 2011. While Rajan was sentenced to life imprisonment, Vora was acquitted seven years after the killing.

Scoop, based on Vora's memoir Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison, stars Karishma Tanna in the lead role and features Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Harman Baweja, and Prosenjit Chatterjee in supporting roles. In the trailer, Tanna says: “Problem yeh hai ki either you break a story or the story breaks you.” This best describes Vora’s journey.

Who is Jigna Vora?

Vora was a journalist who worked as a crime reporter for Asian Age newspaper in Mumbai. She did her law degree from Ruparel College in Mumbai and later did a diploma course at Somaiya College where Velly Thevar, her faculty and well-known crime reporter working for the Times of India influenced her to take up crime reporting. Upon her parents' compulsion, Vora was forced to give up her internship with a reputed law firm to agree to a marriage to a man who was supposedly an engineer and ran a printing press in Baruch, Gujarat. She later discovered that these claims were not true; the marriage ended on a bitter note. In May 2004 Vora moved back to her maternal home in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, where she decided to pursue her career in media alongside being a mother to her four-year-old son.

Vora joined the Free Press Journal (FPJ) in November 2005 as a court reporter where her first task was to cover gangster Abu Salem's case at the TADA court situated inside Arthur Road Jail. After three years in the FPJ, Vora earned a position with Mumbai Mirror where her assigned beat was the sessions court at Kala Ghoda Mumbai. Her interaction here with many accused and known criminals led her to take up crime reporting. Vora covered her first underworld story in December 2005 when Sujata Nikhalje, who also happens to be gangster Rajan’s wife, was arrested for extortion threats against a builder. While working for Mid-Day, Vora set out on a big story about controversial encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma that shook the nation.

In 2008, Vora joined the Asian Age and covered the sensational story of Jaya Chheda, who planned the murder of her ex-husband to get control over his thriving business in Mumbai.

J Dey murder

It was in 2011 that her life and promising career came to a standstill. Vora was 37 years old and held the post of deputy bureau chief of the Asian Age's Mumbai bureau. She was one of the two main suspects in the murder of crime journalist Jyotirmoy Dey (J Dey), who was shot and killed in Mumbai by unidentified assailants in Hiranandani, Powai, while onlookers witnessed the incident. The murderers were eventually identified as being part of a seven-person group connected to the underworld gangster Chhota Rajan. After conducting an initial investigation, the Mumbai police charged Rajan and Vora.

The case was handed over to the CBI in 2016. While Vora denied all the allegations and claimed that she contacted the gangster just for an interview, the charges against her stated otherwise. In connection with the investigation, Mumbai police detained Vora on November 25, 2011. She was charged with giving details about Dey, including his residence and the license plate number of his bike to Rajan. After nine months in prison, she was released on bail in 2012 from Byculla Jail in Mumbai. She was only cleared of all the accusations after seven years in the 2018 special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court due to lack of evidence.

After battling this tough phase in her life Vora is now a tarot reader and healer who has been healing people and predicting their future through astrology for the past five years. She is also carrying forward research and writing web series and movies based on the same. In Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison, she documents her trauma after being framed for murder. Vora wrote about how she sternly denied all the allegations that were made against her when she was interrogated by her fellow inmates right after her arrest.

She detailed traumatising days and nights spent in prison, court hearings, and her years as a crime reporter breaking many front-page stories. Vora also shared about how she was asked to strip by lady constables while she was on her period, and also opened up about her friendship with Pragya Thakur in prison.

"On my aluminum plate, I had two chapatis, dal, and some vegetables. “Strands of black hair floated in the watery dal. I put the plate aside and wept again. Pangs of pain cramped my stomach. I had hardly eaten since my arrest. I felt weak and exhausted, but I could not bring myself to eat the food I had been served,” she wrote in the book.

In the book she also highlighted the plight of female prisoners at Byculla Jail and her days spent eating unhygienic food, scrubbing toilets, and cells with not even enough light to see her fellow inmates. The book further delved into the accusations that were levelled against her and how investigators found circumstantial evidence of her links with gangster Rajan.