As the body of slain veteran journalist J Dey was being carried to the ambulance for its last journey to the crematorium from his parents’ home in Ghatkopar (west) on Sunday morning, his mother wailed through the window of the first floor apartment: “Aaja, wapas aaja [come back].”
Few among the hundreds of friends and colleagues gathered to pay their last respects to their beloved Dada remained dry-eyed.
“Dada lived like a hero and died a hero. We are here to bid adieu to our hero,” said one of Dey’s old friends a crime reporter, tears running down his face as he and many others followed the ambulance to Rajawadi crematorium, amidst the wails of women relatives who did not go to the crematorium.
“Dey was my good friend and what has happened is very sad,” said public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who visited the house to pay respects to Dey. “The police will take action against the culprits. There is a bill for protection of journalists that is under consideration and the departments concerned are looking into it.”
The minister believes there was no saving Dey, though. “The way he was shot, with nine bullets at a close range, no law could have protected him,” Bhujbal said.
The rain let up for a while after the ambulance left the building, but the heavy downpour and water-logged streets were no deterrents for the journalist fraternity, which turned up in full strength to pay tribute to a dear colleague. Dey’s soft-spoken and affable nature and success in reporting underworld and mafia stories had earned him many admirers.
His old friends in the police department, including inspector general of police Parambir Singh, senior inspectors Praful Bhosle, Rakesh Sharma, ACP Vasant Dhoble and PI Hemant Desai attended the funeral.
Members of various media associations, such as the Press Club, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, Mumbai Crime Reporters’ Association and TV Journalists Association were present when the last rites were performed. Minority affairs minister Naseem Khan, Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and a state representative were also present.
The pyre was lit at noon by journalist Nikhil Dixit; Dey was a single child and his father has passed away.