A preliminary investigation into the murder of senior journalist Jyotendra Dey alias Commander Dey, has indicated that the ghastly killing could have been the handiwork of an organised crime syndicate, and executed by professionals, according to the police.

“It's the work of professionals, because all the bullets are concentrated on the chest, on the left hand side. The possibility of a personal vendetta cannot be denied, but we are investigating on the line that it is the work of an organised crime syndicate. Prima facie, [it] appears to be the work of an organised crime syndicate. It is very premature to talk about it,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik told journalists here on Saturday.

The police have not yet ascertained the number of rounds fired by the attacker. Mr. Dey's body has been sent to a civic hospital for post-mortem examination. There are eight entry wounds in his body. The police have recorded the statements of some eyewitnesses and are preparing a sketch of the assailants based on their testimonies.

Mr. Dey was a resident of the Shivbhaktani Manor building in Powai, Mumbai. He was returning home from suburban Ghatkopar. “When he passed D Mart, a departmental store in the Hiranandani complex, around 2.45 p.m., four unidentified youth aged 20 to 25 years came from behind. One of them was wearing a blue windcheater. One of these four persons opened fire at him. There are nine visible injuries on the body,” the police said.

Call for resignation

Jatin Desai, senior journalist, told The Hindu that a protest rally would be held on Monday against the killing of Mr. Dey. A committee against attacks on journalists held a meeting on Saturday evening and demanded the sacking of Home Minister R. R. Patil and the Police Commissioner.

Mr. Desai said that Mr. Dey had written against the oil mafia and were receiving constant threats from them. Yet the police did not give him protection. Last month, when a journalist Akela [Mirror reporter Tarakant Dwivedi Akela] was arrested, a delegation of journalists had met Mr. Patil, and Mr. Dey had given him a report showing links between the police and the underworld. Mr. Patil had assured them of action in two days, but nothing happened.

Mr. Patil, however, described the incident as “a sad event” and affirmed strong government action.

“[We] will teach them a lesson so that this won't be repeated. Reporters have demanded that attacks on journalists be made a non-bailable offence. I am of the same opinion. There is a need for such legislation. In case any reporter gets threatening calls, we will give him or her protection.” Mr. Patil said.

Mr. Dey had met Crime Branch officials recently, but never complained of any threats. The police also have denied that the journalist received any threat. Though there was speculation of involvement of the underworld, Iqbal Mandani, a close friend and associate of Mr. Dey, ruled out the possibility of the underworld link. “J Dey covered underworld for a very long time and he was a very senior crime reporter. I don't think the attack was underworld-related, because he never had any enemies in the underworld. In fact, sources from underworld would call him to give him news. I don't think even the oil mafia are involved,” said Mr. Mandani.

He alleged that perhaps Mr. Dey's stories “could be threatening to a few people.”

“I think this has been done by someone very close to him or who has followed him very closely. Because only people close to him knew that Saturday was his weekly off ,” P. K. Ravindranath, veteran journalist who was associated with Mr. Dey said.