Jey's justice, Jigna's freedom
The Bombay underworld attracts passionate journalists who rub shoulders with the mafioso in search of scoop and then face their ire, elaborates Sushil Kutty.
Finally, the day arrived for journalist Jey Dey to get justice. Mafia don and Dawood eyesore Chhota 'Chindi' Rajan was duly convicted along with nine others; while another journalist, alleged femme fatale and jealous professional Jigna Vora walked free. She was out on bail, so that was not difficult – the 'walking free' part, that is. Don't know how many must have noticed but the alphabet of the week is 'J' with words beginning with 'J' hogging the news in these past couple of deys …oops days! What have you – Jey, Journalist, Jigna, and Jinnah…
That's trivia you can take home buried in one corner of the mind, thinking all the while that if anybody is lucky it must be Jigna Vora. Both Jigna and Jyotirmoy Dey lived dangerously, hobnobbing with mafia dons and their underlings. Jey Dey was the editor (investigations) of the Midday eveninger and Jigna Vora was Mumbai deputy bureau head of Asian Age. The two crossed paths not in the corridors of police stations but in their writings, which was all about the murky undertakings in the dark belly of the Mumbai underworld. Who got the juicier – another 'J' to wit-bits mattered and reports at the time of Jey Dey's murder spoke of both the journalists as not exactly Jigri Dosts – there, the 'J', again – who exchanged smiles and had the other's phone numbers stored in mobile sets to exchange pleasantries.
Jigna, they said, was jealous of Dey's greater standing in circles of 'investigative crime journalism', kind of playing second fiddle to Jey Dey's first. And, it was spoken in hush-hush that while Dey was a 'Dawood Man', Jigna shared a special rapport with Chhota Rajan, who, they say, is a mean fellow to rile. Jey Dey apparently did just that. One, Dey was cosy with the D-Company boss, international terrorist and Chhota Rajan bete-noire Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. Two, he called Chhota Rajan a 'Chindi Chor ', chindi meaning 'petty'.
To Chhota Rajan that was like being reduced to a Gangu Teli status. Dey had authored two books at the time of his murder – Khalaas: An A to Z Guide to the Underworld and Zero Dial: The Dangerous World of Informers – and was on his way to finishing another, 'Chindi: Rags to Riches', a pen-portrait of Chhota Rajan cut to Chindi size. To the massive ego of the pint-sized Chhota Rajan that was like red-rag to a bull. Jey Dey was shot dead on a Mumbai road on June 11, 2011, and Jigna Vora was arrested in November of that year with allegations that Jigna egged Chhota Rajan on to 'Spot Lagale' Dey.
Mumbai crime reporters, unlike their Delhi counterparts, take their reporting to the underworld – cultivating sharpshooters and police informers, financiers and small-arms suppliers. They willy-nilly become accomplices, so to speak, and have to take sides. The Delhi crime reporter will sit behind his desk in an office or, at the most, opposite a deputy commissioner of police in the Delhi Police Headquarters, hardly venturing out to get the dope straight from the horse's mouth. But, the Mumbai crime reporter will wade into the deep-end of the dangerous pool of crime and criminals. Dey and Jigna stood among the many braves of this intrepid tribe.
To come back to the point, one 'J' must have got justice and another 'J' has been acquitted, with the court ruling that she had no blood on her hands. If Asian Age doesn't make that a banner headline, it mustn't think much of redemption and poetic justice. Maybe, that is because the term 'poetic justice' is more often than not used when an accused gets the short-end of the stick, just desserts! For the Midday eveninger, it must definitely be a big day. It's hero of many days, Jey Dey, has finally been given his long due glory.
Jey Dey and Jigna Vora; Chhota Rajan and the Malayalee in the pack – sharpshooter Rohit Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya. It was Joseph who fired the bullets that felled Jey Dey. He and another of the conspirators tailed the motorbike-borne Jey Dey with Joseph riding pillion on their own motorbike. And, right when Dey was almost home, thinking of God knows what, Thangappan took the shot. The police said it was 'superb shooting', aimed to kill. And why not? The Malayalee, when he sets his sight, most often gets a clear shot. God's Own Country produces its own devils.
The accused in the case – nine of them now convicted – were charged under sections of the IPC and the Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), a law they say is tougher than the tough as nuts TADA. But, for most of those convicted, it must not be that bad a piece of news. Most of them are behind bars with Chhota Rajan cooling his heels in Delhi's Tihar. The ailing Dawood Ibrahim, in his Karachi hideout, must be one happy don. There is nothing like witnessing an old rival being shown their place. Dawood and Rajan go a long way back, their rivalry, too. It is based upon such rivalries that journalists such as Jey Dey and Jigna Vora make their name. It is just that Jey got it and Jigna did not. Who won, who lost is another book to be written!
(The views expressed are strictly personal)