A little over 5 year ago, on 11 June 2011, senior crime reporter and a fearless investigator, Jyotirmoy Dey, was gunned down amidst a hail of bullets in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Everyone knew him as J Dey. A man of few words, he was liked by all. As Mid-day’s Editor-Investigations, he was snatched away cruelly at the prime of his career.
J Dey’s killing united us all and the Mumbai Press Club led a campaign to get justice for Dey. The morchas and outpouring put the then Pritviraj Chavan government on the back foot, and the police scrambled to arrest suspects and find motives for the murder. A dubious police officer who had tried to hide the trail was suspended, some sharp-shooters who executed the assassination were caught; and the police tried to create red herring trail by planting stories against J Dey to divert attention from the main trail.
The Mumbai Press Club fought long and hard to have the case transferred to the C.B.I. and went up to the Supreme Court. But to no avail. The Mumbai Police wouldn’t let go. They named gangster Chota Rajan as the man who coordinated the killing, and blamed and arrested journalist Jigna Vohra as the main culprit who had ‘instigated’ Chota Rajan on account of ‘professional rivalry’. Ultimately, Jigna Vohra, arrested under the dreaded MCOC Act, was released on bail for lack of evidence 8-9 months later; and the investigation did not go beyond Chota Rajan.
Ironically, the gangster was arrested a little over a year ago, and all cases where he was involved have now been transferred to the C.B.I. – something we had demanded 5 years ago. Nailing down crucial details of J Dey’s killing – who was behind the trigger and what was the motive – is still wide open.
Unfortunately, we have short memories, and for most of us J Dey is dead and buried. However, the Mumbai Press Club continued its ‘Justice for J Dey’ campaign. To mark his contribution to journalism and to his brand of fearless crime reporting, the Club has been successful in convincing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to name the Powai Garden’s D-Mart Chowk as ‘J Dey Chowk’.
The solemn ceremony of unveiling the plaque for the ‘J Dey Chowk’ – just across the road from where he was gunned down – will be at the hands of the Mayor of Mumbai, Srimati Snehal Ambekar, on Wednesday, 13th July, 2016, at 11.00 AM. The unveiling will be followed by a memorial meeting at the Fern Hotel, next to the chowk.
The inauguration of the J Dey Chowk is a very important event for us journalists. It not only is a mark to the memory of the fighter J Dey; it is also a reminder that the case is not closed and the investigation and perhaps arrest of some of the main killers is still on the agenda. The chowk is also a remembrance for nearly a dozen journalists who have died in the line of duty in recent months in what is seen as amongst the worst periods of media freedom for this country.
Do join us in large numbers and do mention it in your columns, and TV programmes.
Mumbai Press Club