Arrests in Mumbai killing; accused mastermind at large

New York, June 27, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes news today that police in Mumbai have arrested seven suspects in the June 11 slaying of veteran crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey. But CPJ is concerned that the alleged mastermind remains at large and that police have not identified a motive in the killing.

Investigators believe the reputed crime boss Chhota Rajan ordered the killing, Himanshu Roy, a senior police official, told reporters at a press conference today. Rajan was not among those detained and the precise motive for the killing was unclear, police said. The court ordered the seven suspects held for a week while the investigation continues.

Dey, a senior journalist and special investigations editor for the daily Midday, was gunned down in broad daylight. Multiple gunmen on motorcycles fired several shots at Dey as he was driving his own motorcycle in Powai, a suburb of Mumbai, news reports said. Dey, struck five times in the head and chest, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to news accounts.

“It is encouraging to hear of arrests in the fatal shooting of Jyotirmoy Dey,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “But without the arrest of the mastermind behind this brazen killing of a respected journalist, police have much more work to do in solving this crime.”

With seven unsolved journalist murders since 2001 and no apparent political will to prosecute the cases India ranks 13th on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are regularly slain and their killers go free.