The mother wailed inconsolably as the sister caressed her dead brother. “You got us fame and good status. But we wanted only you. Why have you left us like this?” Leela, sister of senior crime reporter Jyotendra Dey, lamented during the funeral here on Sunday morning.
“You fought for others' rights. Now who will fight for you?” his mother Beena cried.
Wife Shubha sat quietly in a corner, breaking down intermittently whenever a close friend reached out to her. “There were no threats. Nothing that he spoke of,” she told one of her friends.
Dey was shot dead by four unknown assailants in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, family members, police officials, politicians and hundreds of friends from the journalist fraternity paid a tearful tribute to the “gentle giant,” as the six-footer scribe was called fondly in his office. Despite pouring rain, hundreds came to pay their last respects to J Dey at his mother's house.
“He had said yesterday [Saturday] that he would return in half an hour. And see what has happened. He had recently got a new raincoat. He wore it for the first time yesterday. He told me to come to Big Bazaar. I should have listened to him. Maybe he would have been here with us today [Sunday] then,” the mother said.
“They have not eaten anything since yesterday afternoon. We have been trying to convince them to eat something. But both [mother and sister] have been crying inconsolably since yesterday. We don't know what to do,” a family friend said, herself unable to come to terms with the shocking news.
“We used to tell him: ‘How much of running around will you do? Take some rest. Don't run around so much.' But he never listened. We used to have fights and I used to tell him to leave the job. He had promised he would leave the job in a year and start writing a film,” Beena said. Dey had written two books on the underworld.
The grieving mother kept recounting memories. With the ticking of every hour, she would be reminded of what her son would have done at that particular time. “It is 9.30. He would have asked for breakfast now.”
“He used to feed a crow every day. He used to help everyone. He took care of everyone who came to him,” she said.
Tarakant Dwivedi alias Akela, a fellow journalist at MiD Day, remembers Dey's help at the time he had been imprisoned under the Official Secrets Act. “I would never forget the efforts he took to bring me out of prison. When the news of my release came, he came running to the ICU [Intensive Care Unit] and hugged me. He had tears in his eyes. I‘ll never forget that hug. I have lost my brother.”
All colleagues and friends remember Dey as a selfless person. “He used to talk to everyone politely. It did not matter if the person he was talking to was a senior or a junior,” said a journalist.
Young crime reporters recall the selfless help Dey would always give them in their stories. “However big the story was, he used to help you with all the details,” Shoaib Ahmed, a journalist, said.
“We feel like the crime reporters have been orphaned by his demise,” he said.
Senior reporters described him as a thorough professional and gentleman. “His stories carried credibility. They involved a lot of research. His network of sources was incredible,” said Shashikant Sandbhor, president, TV Journalists' Association.
Many who had worked with him were disconsolate. “The loss is immense. Not just to the crime reporters in Mumbai, but across India,” Iqbal Mandani said. Reporters remembered him as a polite person who usually kept to himself.