Condemning the murder of Mumbai journalist Jyotendra Dey, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday called for separate legislation to protect journalists.

The senior crime reporter and Editor (Special Investigations) of the tabloid MiD Day was killed by four unidentified gunmen in a Mumbai suburb earlier in the day.

“I strongly condemn such acts. Something like this shouldn't have happened. The Maharashtra government will deal with it firmly. I have instructed the police machinery to solve the case as soon as possible,” the Chief Minister told journalists here. He had spoken to Home Minister R.R. Patil and asked for a thorough probe.

“Attacks on RTI activists and journalists will not be tolerated,” Mr. Chavan said. He would push for a law to protect journalists.

In an appeal to journalists, he said: “To help us prevent such incidents, I would request journalists to share any fear or threat with us. We will give full protection to any journalist who perceives any threat.” Mr. Chavan said there was no information of any threat to Mr. Dey.

J. Balaji reports from New Delhi:

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, condemning the killing, said the incident challenged the freedom of the press and the pursuit of objective reporting — something no civilised society could tolerate. It was a sign of insanity perpetuated by mindless individuals, in which innocent citizens were killed.

“Shocking”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's media adviser Harish Khare termed the incident “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

The Editors Guild of India urged the Maharashtra government to bring the killers to book at the earliest. Its president T.N. Ninan and secretary general Coomi Kapoor deplored the law enforcement agencies' inability to protect the life of a journalist, who was carrying out his professional duties at great personal risk.

Remembering Mr. Dey as a “courageous reporter” who had undertaken to expose the underworld, they said: “As editor of the special investigation team of the MiD Day, and earlier with the Indian Express newspaper, he had relentlessly exposed Mumbai's criminal mafia despite numerous threats to his life.”

‘Order proper inquiry'

Press Club of India vice-president Anil Anand urged the State government to order a proper inquiry into the incident. “Mr. Dey had made a mark for himself and left an indelible impression through his incisive and investigative stories in whichever media organisation he worked,” Mr. Anand said in a statement.

The Broadcast Editors' Association, apex body of the editors of national and regional TV news channels in the country, wanted the Maharashtra government to take immediate action against the perpetrators.

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