Jyotirmoy Kumar Dey was a crime reporter with a difference. He did not just do routine rounds in Mumbai. He had a hunch that the underworld was again gaining ground in the city and playing his hunch, he paid the ultimate price. He was shot by organised killers as he rode home on his bike proving that he was on the right scent. Investigative journalism in India, especially when it exposes the underground, has become as dangerous as in the US or Pakistan. Dey’s murder has elicited severe condemnation and regret. There is no denying that his probing journalism led to his death. But no light has been thrown on what actually brought it about, his earlier investigation into the mafia or his book, Zero Dial on police informers.
Mumbai has long been a victim of terrorist and mafia violence. But the city is desperately trying to ensure civil safety. Big shots including a Chief Minister and a Minister have been removed. Of course, crime in Mumbai mostly festers in the sewers of the underground. But, there is certainly a parallel between Dey’s murder and that of Saleem Shahid in Pakistan who is suspected to have been killed by the country’s intelligence agencies for exposure of their link with al-Qaida. One wonders if India is safe for journalists who seek truth and uncover police-underworld links. Some reporters and editors in regional languages have been imprisoned for writing candid stories on human rights violations. Some killings can be attributed to official whitewashing of the bad elements in government employ. If criminals killed Dey to prevent him from doing his work, the authorities should have a lot of explaining to do.