sans serif records with regret the demise of Jyotirmoy Dey, investigations editor of the tabloid Mid-Day, in a pointblank shootout in Bombay on Saturday, 11 June 2011.
The killing in broad daylight brings into sharp focus India’s much-vaunted journalistic freedom, positing it directly against Pakistan’s, which has seen over a dozen journalists being bumped off in recent months.
J. Dey‘s byline adorned crime stories in India’s commercial capital for nearly a quarter of a century in a number of newspapers, including the Indian Express and Hindustan Times.
According to Mid-Day editor Sachin Kalbag, Dey had exposed the Rs 10,000 crore oil mafia only last month.
Dey’s story on the Bollywood actor Salman Khan boasting of his underworld links in a conversation with Aishwarya Rai was the lead story of the launch issue of Hindustan Times‘ Bombay edition in 2005.
Besides a book on the underworld appropriately titled Khallas, Dey had authored a book on police informers titled Zero Dial in 2010. Zero Dial was released by the controversial Maharashtra politician Chhagan Bhujbal, who today said, “Dey wasn’t blackmailing anybody“.
In a 2009 story in Mid-Day, titled Bhai-cha Dhakka, Dey reported on how the underworld was creeping into the mainstream.
“The underworld today is a clear departure from what it was between the 70s and 90s. From controlling bootlegging, gambling and smuggling, the gangs have now entered businesses like real estate, cinema, sand dredging and waterfront commerce in Mumbai’s ports and even the purchase of vegetables and meat (see box). For the common man this means he unknowingly adds to the coffers of gangs…”
In an opinion piece on the silence of “encounter specialists” last July, Dey wrote:
“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber. The eagles —encounter specialists—have been silent for far too long. The parrots, or the criminals, have not only begun jabbering but are also flying without fear.”
Former Mid-Day editor Abhijit Majumder described Dey as a softspoken man in the newsroom.
In New Delhi, the Editors Guild of India president T.N. Ninan and general secretary Coomi Kapoor deplored “the law enforcement agencies’ inability to protect the life of a journalist engaged in carrying out his professional duties at great risk to himself.“
Rest in peace.
Mid-Day: Official statement, Sachin Kalbag, His best stories, His colleagues,
DNA: Aditya Sinha
Hindustan Times: Samar Halarnkar, Debashish Panigarhi, Abhijit Majumder
Indian Express: Obituary
Deccan Chronicle: S. Hussain Zaidi