Saturday, June 11, 2011

Killing of a Crime Reporter – The Response of Social Media

A Crime Reporter is dead... Shot in daylight by unknown persons, just outside his home!

A crime reporter suddenly turned into a crime report!

I never read Mid Day; I don’t usually read crime reports. So, I never knew that there was a crime reporter named Jyotirmoy Dey or Joy Dey, reporting on the underworld and other crime related stories in Mumbai.

Apparently, he was a senior journalist and was very good at what he was doing. He also maintained close contacts with many police officers, including the infamous encounter specialists, and underworld operatives. Can’t blame him for that- how else is he to source the reports on criminals and crimes for us to read?

Death is a death; irrespective of the mode. It is end of a life and a beginning of sorrow for many others. Life, however, moves on even for the family of the dead.

Then why am I writing this? Well, it is not on the killing of Joy Dey but about the reaction of our society to that incident.

I know for most people death is a reason for shock; more so in the case of a killing and even more so, where the victim is well known. Expression of sadness at the untimely ending of a promising life and at the ill luck that had befallen upon the family are expected and understood. MID DAY in their statement on the incident says “MiD DAY will not speculate on the circumstances that led to his murder, and will cooperate with the Mumbai Police at every step in the investigation”.

But our new Civil Society and Social Media are not satisfied at such niceties. This is the era of fast unto deaths and instant reactions. We have no time to wait for an investigation. We have to express our anger... our anguish... our frustration.... well, all at our State and political system! Even an unfortunate death is a weapon to undermine our system of governance; wittingly or unwittingly, for our social media crusaders.

I was surprised at the reactions to this unfortunate incident. I will just quote some of the representative tweets here for illustration purpose only:

@Tony2176: “another brave life lost to corrupt politicians and cops-is there no hope for our country? the truth will never come out :(“

@timesofindia: “Journalists lambast police for Dey's murder”

@anubhasawhney: “free speech was murdered in india today”

@corruptionhurts: “#jdey is killed because of our politicians. Join the debate on electoral system”

@unessentialist: “does anyone think the Mafia wld suddenly go after a journalist without some bastard politician's okay? RIP Jyotirmoy Dey”

@waglenikhil: “Journos demanded spl law long back. Maha govt promised but postponed every time. Meanwhile many beaten n j dey killed. Will the govt listen?”

Well, I will stop quoting further. You got to believe me when I say one person even commented that now the equilibrium can’t remain any longer and it is time for a revolution and another wanted the occasion to be used for demanding police reforms (though demand for reforms in itself is sensible)!

Mumbai Police categorically stated that they had no information about any threat to Mr Dey. No one else had accused police of knowing about the threat. Even if Dey sensed some threat, in his line of work, I do not think he would have sought police protection or filed a police complaint.

Some people point fingers at Oil Mafia, others at D Company; but all are unanimous in pointing out the role of politicians in this killing.

Is it the first time that a crime reporter got killed for his reporting, anywhere in the world? I doubt it. Is the killing of crime reporter different from the number of killings that he probably reported in his life? When you seek out secrets of those who have a lot to hide, you are in danger. That is a fact of life. When those people you seek out and report include professional killers, there is a huge risk of yourself becoming a victim. Anyone who reports on crime must be aware of these basic facts. Yet they can’t go around doing their work with police escorts; so they prefer to live with the risk.

We do not know who killed Dey. We all want Mumbai Police to actively investigate and bring the killers and anyone behind them to book. But blaming police or politicians (unless we can prove complicity of either) or the Indian democratic/electoral system for the killing is beyond all reasonableness.

Rule of law is not about stopping every crime; but the ability of state to investigate a crime objectively and to get the perpetuators convicted in a fair trial. Sensationalism is acceptable; but not at the cost of undermining our constitutional systems.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    It is not as simple as you describe. This murder also has other things around it. J Dey was a top crime journalist. Right along with reporting crimes, he had exposed links between corrupt top cops and mafia and had received threats of harm from COPS. Events since then have only reinforced the folly. The investigation is botched. Forensic investigation was started over a day later and the crime scene not protected from the crowds of people. Cops tried to dismiss what is probably the most sensational murder (I'd even call it assassination) as personal enimity or - pay attention - jealousy about a hidden affair.

    This morning, Mid Day has published "No one killed J Day" - worth a read.