On 29 November, an email appeared in The Caravan’s inbox from a sender identifying himself as a friend of Anuj Loya, the son of the late judge BH Loya. In a conversation on 30 November, he informed us that Anuj had shown him a copy of a letter dated February 2015, which Anuj had also left with Judge Loya’s sister. The Caravan had obtained and published the letter in an earlier story regarding the circumstances surrounding the judge’s death. The letter had stated, “If anything happens to me or my family members, chief justice, Mohit Shah and others involved in the conspiracy will be responsible.” Worried that Anuj was under pressure now, the friend who reached out to The Caravan said that Anuj had told him “that if any harm came to his family,” he was to tell the “media or someone who could do something about it” about the letter.
We also received another email on 29 November, from a person identifying himself as Anuj Loya. In an attached letter, he said, “I, myself, my sister and my mother did not have any doubts about the fact that my father had passed away due to a heart attack and no other reason.” We responded to him to confirm his identity, but have not yet received a reply, and so have not been able to confirm that the letter was sent by him and reflected his sentiments. A Times of India story published a little over a week after The Caravan’s series of stories on Judge Loya’s death (following which many members of Loya’s family have been untraceable) reported that Anuj had met the Bombay High Court chief justice Manjula Chellur to “convey that the family had no complaints or suspicion about the circumstances of his father’s death.” The story did not seek to explain how Anuj had contacted the chief justice, and who had facilitated the meeting.
We compared the signatures on the 2015 letter and the recent letter to us. At first, we were puzzled to find that they differed. A closer look revealed that they matched, but that the signature on the new letter was tilted by about 90 degrees. From a photograph of Anuj’s, in which he is seen playing pool, we confirmed that his striking hand is his right—that is, he is likely right-handed. This suggested that he was not sitting directly in front of the new letter when he signed it—rather that he signed it from a peculiar angle, with his arm nearly perpendicular to the page.
According to the friend, he was in touch with Anuj as recently as 4 November, “when he told me that his phone broke. So he asked me to give him my number.” Up until this last conversation, Anuj had not indicated to his friend that the sentiments he expressed in his 2015 letter had changed, or that he was withdrawing the standing instruction with regard to it, to be followed “in case something happened.” It is difficult to reconcile this fact with the letter to The Caravan just over three weeks later, in which Anuj wrote, “I could feel the sincerity of condolences given to my family by my father’s friends and colleagues and other Hon’ble Judges of Bombay High Court.”
The friend’s email indicated that he had been unsuccessfully trying to reach Anuj and other members of his family. “I am a very close friend of Anuj Loya,” he wrote. “I have tried contacting him but I am not able to reach any of his family members’ numbers.” (We have decided to redact the friend’s name out of concern for his privacy and security.) The email continued, “I just need to know if my friend is safe and any information regarding this will be appreciated.”