Daily Archives: 26 April 2007

Reporter who broke fake encounter deaths story

This man is Prashant Dayal. He was once an autorickshaw driver. Now he is a journalist. A senior reporter with the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar. He broke the story in November 2006 of the fake encounter deaths in Gujarat, which led to the unprecedented arrest of three ranking police officers on Tuesday.

Dayal who writes a column called Jivti Varta (living stories) says having a drink with police officers helped him crack the case. One evening, one of the officers involved in the murders boasted of how they had “punished” and eliminated some “anti-national” elements.

With the booze-induced clue, Dayal revisited the story and hit paydirt. Initially, his editors were reluctant to run the story, citing lack of documentation, but they were soon to be proved wrong.

In a 19-year career, Dayal has switched jobs 14 times. “I have never seen an increment or bonus in my career because I could never settle down in a newspaper. Every day, I used to have a fight with the editors over stories,” he tells rediff.com.

When in college, Dayal drove an autorickshaw at night. A journalism degree fetched him a job but without salary, a Gujarati journalism phenomenon, common to many other regional languages where proprietors believe if a journalist is “smart” he will know how to make money.

Dayal was so enthusiastic to earn a name as a reporter that he worked without a salary for more than a year, driving the autorickshaw at night after reporting stories during the day.

Photo courtesy: rediff.com