In a shocking incident, Jyotendra Dey, popularly known by his pseudonym J Dey, Editor, Special Investigations, MiD Day, was shot dead in a city suburb on Saturday.
Mr. Dey, 50, was a well-known name in the city's media, police and political circles. He reported extensively on crime, notably on Mumbai's underworld.
The incident took place around 3 p.m. at Hiranandani Gardens, a plush locality in Powai. Additional Commissioner Vishwas Nangre Patil said around four unidentified persons came on two motorcycles and fired at Mr. Dey from the left. He was shot several times from point blank range. “There are nine bullet wounds. We will study the entry and exit wounds,” he said. Mr. Dey was taken to a private hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.
The police are yet to ascertain the motive and the identity of the assailants.
Home Minister R.R. Patil said the government was serious about bringing the attackers to book. “We will know about the motive… after preliminary investigations,” Mr. Patil said.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) and other senior officers rushed to the spot.
Meeting on cards
Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan said he would meet senior officials to discuss the incident. He appealed to journalists to inform the police if they were faced with any threat to life.
In his long career, Mr. Dey worked with many publications, and had a brief stint in the television media. He authored Khallaas - an A to Z Guide to the Underworld and Zero Dial - The Dangerous World of Informers.
He began his career as a freelance photographer. Between 1996 and 2005, he worked with The Indian Express, then for three years with Hindustan Times, and later joined MiD Day. He has done many reports on underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan.
MiD Day's Executive Editor Sachin Kalbag in a statement said: “The MiD Day family condemns the murder of Joy Dey, Editor, Crime and Investigations. Mr. Dey was one of the pillars of the MiD Day newsroom for the last four years, and, as one of the seniormost investigative journalists in the country, was an invaluable asset to the newspaper. He brought depth to our investigative reporting, and he conducted his journalism with honesty and integrity. This is not only a loss to MiD Day but to the media fraternity in general.
“Mr. Dey had been a crime reporter for more than two decades, and, over the course of his illustrious career, he was a mentor and a “guru” to budding crime reporters. The loss to journalism, therefore, is irreparable. MiD Day will not speculate on the circumstances that led to his murder, and will cooperate with the Mumbai Police at every step in the investigation.”
The paper said it would support Mr. Dey's family “in every manner possible.”
“Classic investigative reporter”
Nikhil Dixit, bureau chief of DNA, Mumbai, and a very good friend of Mr. Dey, said Mr. Dey was “a classic example of an investigative reporter.” “He was secretive about his sources. He had a lot of underworld sources, which he had developed over a period of years.”
Mr. Dixit, however, said that of late, Mr. Dey was not much involved with the underworld. “His sources had dried up.” He remembered his friend as a “down to earth” and “humble” person who did not cross anyone's path.
S. Hussain Zaidi, former crime journalist and author of Black Friday, also a close friend of Mr. Dey for 17 years, told The Hindu on the phone that there was “no current threat” to his life.
“I brought him to crime reporting. We worked together at The Indian Express for five years. He was earlier on the general beat, but was very keen on covering crime. That's how we struck a friendship. He was fascinated with the underworld. We normally faced threats, but I spoke to his wife. She said he did not speak of any. I don't know who could have possibly killed him. He was a popular person. I don't know if he had any enemies in the underworld. There were no current threats. As a colleague, he was fantastic,” Mr. Zaidi said.
Call for action
The Mumbai Press Club has demanded that “the perpetrators and conspirators of this heinous killing of the senior journalist be arrested and brought to book immediately.”
At a meeting held in the evening, it said: “The killing of J. Dey also underlines the increasing threat investigative journalists are being subject to by powerful political and business interests indulging in illegal acts. Scores of incidents of journalists being beaten up or threatened by politicians and local mafia have been brought to the fore in recent weeks and months. Journalist organisations will be meeting shortly to decide on a course of action to ensure justice is done in the case of the brutal murder of J. Dey.”
Press freedom challenged
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said: “This act has challenged the freedom of the press and the pursuit of objective reporting. This incident is a sign of insanity perpetuated by mindless individuals in which innocent citizens are killed. No civilised society can tolerate this kind of attack on the freedom of the press. I am confident that the Home Minister of Maharashtra will live up to his assurance of tracking down the assailants in the shortest possible time.”
Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who was present at the launch of Zero Dial, told The Hindu on the phone that he knew Mr. Dey since 1996. “He was my friend and a fearless reporter. He was not working as an agent of anybody. Everyone liked him. He had in-depth information on his field. Perhaps, this killing is an act of revenge. It's for the police to investigate. He was a very good human being. He never spoke about any threat to his life.”
Bharatiya Janata Party national president Nitin Gadkari said: “The gruesome murder of senior journalist Shri. J. Dey is a very shocking incident. Mumbai has lost a brave journalist. I condole his death and condemn the dastardly crime. This incident has shown the deterioration of law and order in Maharashtra.”
Calling for firm steps to nab the culprits, Madhav Bhandari, BJP spokesperson in Maharashtra, said: “J. Dey was murdered in broad daylight today [Saturday] by the assailants barging into his home. Such an incident had never taken place in the recent history of Maharashtra. It shows that despite the tall claims by Home Minister R.R. Patil, the underworld can easily target their victim irrespective of his position.”