Multiple men on motorcycles fired several shots at Dey as he drove past them on his own motorcycle in Powai, a suburb of Mumbai. The journalist died at the scene from five bullet wounds to the head and chest, his colleagues at Midday told CPJ. Dey, special investigations editor for Midday, was known for his hard-hitting coverage of Mumbai's crime world.
Investigators believed reputed crime boss Chhota Rajan ordered the killing, police told reporters at a press conference. The motive for the killing was not immediately clear, police said, although colleagues told reporters they believed Dey had been targeted for his reporting.
Dey had covered crime in Mumbai for 22 years and had written two books, Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers and Khallas.
In November 2011, a journalist named Jigna Vora was arrested in connection with the murder for allegedly playing a part in the conspiracy to kill Dey, according to reports. In June 2015, a special court of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act charged 10 suspects, including Vora and an alleged crime boss Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, also known as Chhota Rajan, according to reports. Nikalje was deported from Bali to India in November 2015, reports said. In January 2016, officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation questioned Nikalje about the killing of Dey. Vora denied the allegation, according to reports.
A 2016 supplementary charge sheet prepared by the CBI alleged that Nikalje confessed to the murder to a journalist, The Hindu reported. It quoted Nikalje as saying: “J. Dey was writing many articles against me in newspapers. Hence I contacted him and enquired politely whether he has any personal enmity with me. He declined but continued writing against me.. like my gang has become weak and that I am sick, my loyal people have left me etc. All such write-ups of J Dey angered me. Hence I developed an impression that he had started working for the Dawood gang. I tried to convince him before killing him. But he did not listen. I am not sure whether he was really close to Dawood gang.. but his writings made me feel like that.”
On May 2, 2018, a Mumbai court found Nikhalje guilty of ordering Dey’s murder because of articles and books that Dey wrote, according to news reports. The court convicted and sentenced Nikhalje and eight others to life in prison for murder and criminal conspiracy, according to reports.
The court acquitted Vora, a former deputy bureau chief of Asian Age, of conspiring to murder Dey, according to reports.