MUMBAI: A senior investigative journalist, who extensively covered underworld and crime for over two decades, was shot dead in broad daylight on Saturday by four motorbike-borne persons who pumped at least four bullets into him from behind at close range in suburban Powai.
Mr Jyotirmoy Dey (56), editor (special investigation) with an English tabloid Mid-Day, was riding his motorcycle when he was gunned down in a daring attack that shocked the media fraternity. Condemning the incident, the Prime Minister’s media advisor, Mr Harish Khare termed it as “shocking” and “unacceptable”.
Mr Dey was shot dead by unidentified persons in Powai at 3.30 p.m., the joint police commissioner (law & order), Mr Rajnish Seth said.
City police’s crime branch, which usually probes underworld and serious crime incidents, has taken up investigations into the case.
According to the additional police commissioner (west), Mr Vishwas Nagre Patil, four persons on two motorbikes fired at least four to five rounds at Mr Dey, who was also riding a bike, from behind on Saturday afternoon near Spectra Building at D Mart in Hiranandani area of Powai.
After the attack, he was rushed to nearby Hiranandani Hospital where he was declared dead before admission, Mr Patil said, adding the shooters fled the spot after firing.
“Nine wounds were found on his body,” he said adding, “probably four to five bullets must have been fired taking into account entry and exit wounds.”
“We are probing the matter in all angles.” The body was taken to civic-run Rajawadi Hospital for postmortem.
The Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan said Mr Dey had not communicated to authorities any threat to him and suggested no one should “jump to conclusions”. The state Home Minister, Mr R R Patil also said Mr Dey had not made any complaint regarding any threat to his life.
The Mid-Day executive editor, Mr Sachin Kalbag said Mr Dey had not spoken to him about any danger to his life.
Police sources however said Mr Dey, who recently ran a series of stories on oil mafia, had received threats from anti-social elements. He had also written two books on oil mafia and the underworld.
Mr Dey, who had previously worked with The Hindustan Times and The Indian Express, is survived by his wife Ms Shubra, who is also a journalist.
“We are verifying his mobile phone records and will record the statement of his family members, who reside in Ghatkopar,” a police officer said.
The assailants appeared to be young, Mr Vishwas Patil said, adding the police were ascertaining if their movements had been captured by the CCTV cameras placed at nearby buildings.
Condemning the killing of Mr Dey, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ms Ambika Soni said no civilised society can tolerate this kind of attack on the freedom of the press.
“This act has challenged the freedom of press and the perusal 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 freedom of press,” she said in a condolence message.
Expressing shock over the killing, the PWD Minister, Mr Chhagan Bhujbal said the journalist did not ‘target’ any gang or mafia in particular.
Asked if the killing could be linked to elements from the underworld or the oil mafia, Mr Bhujbal, a former home minister, said, “Dey was a very honest person. He used to write on underworld. He was not targeting anyone in particular, whether any gang or any (oil) mafia.”
Mr Kalbag said the killing of Mr Dey was a tremendous loss to the newspaper. Mr Kalbag sad Mr Dey was called a “guru” by budding crime reporters for his investigative reporting skills.
He said it was too early to ascertain the motive behind the killing.
“Let us not sensationalise the fact that he was working on a story on underworld. Other newspapers too were working on this,” Mr Kalbag said. Mr Dey was believed to be working on articles on wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim.
Mr Bhujbal said Dey’s killing appeared to be pre-planned.
“The way he (Mr Dey) was killed with bullets, it is well planned. Some mafia will be behind it,” he said.
The books authored by Mr Dey were titled Khallas (finished), considered a comprehensive write-up on the Mumbai underworld, and Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers.