In the untimely demise of Jasdeep Malhotra, principal correspondent of Hindustan Times, the journalist fraternity has lost a bold voice of public spirited journalism.
Jasdeep, 41, epitomised Hindustan Times' core values of reporting without fear or favour. He was one of the vanishing breed of fearless scribes who pursue their profession as a mission, regardless of the attendant risks. His last byline story exposing the sand mafia on the front page of HT on Sunday is a testimony, alas the last, to his credentials as a journalist who never flinched in exposing the dark underbelly of society.
Public interest was his calling card. Instinctively an enquirer and an enterprising journalist, Jasdeep revelled in asking tough questions, and writing even tougher stories. It was this trait that made him pursue investigative stories with his trademark tenacity. To this end, he was a pioneer among his genre of journalists for using the Right to Information (RTI) as a powerful tool to expose the misuse of power and corruption in public domain.
Issues of public interest were particularly close to his heart. He would go beyond the call of duty to get the common man justice whether it was a case involving an accident victim, a child forced into labour or a patient facing medical negligence. In fact, he was headed to Pathankot to do follow-up stories on the illegal sand mining mafia when destiny cut short his promising journalistic journey.
Jasdeep possessed the knack of having warm relations with politicians and authorities but was unsparing when it came to grilling them and doing critical stories He was respected for his professionalism.
At the personal level, Jasdeep was vivacious and versatile. Genial in his demeanour, he was a live wire and a natural leader always willing to go beyond the call of duty.
Jasdeep embodied empathy and perhaps that's why he was always keen to join the delegation of journalists headed for Pakistan with the message of peace. He stood out and took pride in being a Punjabi whether at home or in Germany, where he had gone on a scholarship last year.
Jasdeep's demise has reinforced Team HT's resolve to pursue the journalism of public interest. That will be our best tribute to our brave colleague.
Senior Resident Editor