Mumbai crime reporter killed in broad daylight

New York, June 13, 2011–Jyotirmoy Dey, a senior journalist and special investigations editor at Mumbai’s afternoon daily Midday, was killed last week, in broad daylight. His murder must be fully investigated as soon as possible, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On Monday, Maharashtra State Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan denied demands from Dey’s journalist colleagues to take the investigation out of the hands of the Mumbai police and hand it over to the State’s Central Bureau of Investigation, local media reports said.  The choice to keep the investigation of the journalist small disturbs CPJ.

“Too many Indian journalists can be killed without repercussions: it has become a national embarrassment,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “India’s authorities need to act quickly to address this impunity.”

International and local media reports and colleagues at Midday say Dey was killed on Saturday afternoon. His murderers were four men. Some of them fired at him from two motorcycles, as Dey himself drove past them on his motorcycle. They were driving through Powai suburb of Mumbai. They fired a total of eight shots at him: five landed in his head and chest. He died at the scene of the attack, Midday colleagues told CPJ.

Dey was known for his hardline coverage of Mumbai’s crime world — a beat he had covered for 22 years. He had written two books, Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers and Khallas and had worked earlier for the Indian Express and the Hindustan Times. His colleagues told CPJ his intense work style had helped set a tone for investigative reporting in India’s vibrant media environment. These same colleagues are convinced that Dey was targeted by a criminal organization. They remain concerned local authorities will not fully investigate. On Sunday, the police announced, the authorities had formed a special team for the case, but concern lingers among his colleagues that this team will be a mere half measure.

Although it is the world’s largest democracy and there hasn’t been a huge number of journalists killed, India ranks 13th in CPJ’s global Impunity Index. The government apparently lacks the political will to address the problem, CPJ research has found.