'We want to meet the men who killed him'

It’s been almost a year since MiD DAY’s Investigations Editor J Dey was murdered at 56, but even today, his mother Bina (72) and sister Lina (45) sit silently by the window, staring out in futile hope that Dey will come roaring home on his bike. The grieving kin of the slain journalist now have only one wish — they want to meet those who assassinated Dey, and ask them, face to face why they killed him.

Even though a year of grief has passed, Bina and Lina are still inconsolable, and hardly step out of their first floor flat at Vraj Villa, Amrutnagar, Ghatkopar (West). “We have lost everything, they [the assailants] have snatched away our happiness from us,” said Dey’s aged mother, weeping. Her deep and intense grief has started taking a toll on her health — Bina’s haemoglobin level has dipped dangerously, and an old wound on her left leg refuses to heal, even though she is on medication. “He (Dey) was our only support and strength, and we only wish that those guilty get punished severely,” said sister Lina.

Grief-stricken: J Dey’s mother has been keeping a cup of tea near his photograph every morning since the last one year. Pic/Suresh KK

Newspapers and tea
Till date, both Dey’s mother and sister stay awake till 2 am every night, peering out into the road, hoping to spot Dey on his bike, one more time.
That Dey, or at least his memory, is still a palpable part of their lives, is made clear by the fact that they still keep a cup of tea before Dey’s photograph, every day. When MiD DAY visited their home, three cups of tea were seen placed before Dey’s portrait. “My son would always start his day with tea. He read almost all the newspapers, so we continue the same practice – offer him tea and do the reading. We scan every paper, looking for his name. Some articles published on Dey during the initial days after his death would disturb us, as their content would be baseless,” said Bina.

The family, or what’s left of it, has stopped cooking lunch, ever since Dey’s murder. Nor are they particular about even their dinner. Bina explained, “My Dey left the house that afternoon, soon after having his lunch, but he never returned. I would cook the lunch for him. When Dey himself is gone, who do we cook for? After every meal, Dey would fold his hands and thank me for feeding him. We miss those moments.” Dey would ensure that his mother and sister were well provided for – at the beginning of every month, he would get groceries and his favourite basmati rice, along with vegetables and fruits. Today, they seldom phone their grocer, and hardly get vegetables.

“My brother bought a box of grapes two days before the incident, and the box is still lying untouched. We don’t want to throw it away — it is the last remembrance of Dey that we have left,” said Lina. Since Dey’s demise, the two have stopped buying apples, grapes and chikoos, some of Dey’s favourite fruits. Lina said, “Why would they do this to him? He was not even allowed to speak, but was left to die on the road. Nobody came forward to help him, though he was always there to help people in need, and would also help people financially. My brother would always assure me that no one would ever harm him, saying, ‘main garib aadmi hoon, mere pass kya hai, mera kisi ke saat dushmani nahi hai’”(I am a poor man, what do I have? I have no enmity with anyone.) Then why?”

Not enough time
The mother recalled, “Dey was always in a hurry — he wanted to finish off a lot of work in as little time as possible. Even as a young man, he always felt that he was running out of time.” At the time of his death, Dey had been planning an October trip to Itanagar with his mother and sister, as he wanted to get Bina’s leg treated. “That morning, Dey was very happy. He bought a new windcheater and showed it to me, saying, ‘This windcheater is very big, ma — I can wear it over my backpack easily, and your biscuits won’t get wet anymore. He wore the same windcheater and rode out, telling me he would be back in half an hour — but he never returned,” said the emotional mother. Some hours later, they received a call from Dey’s close friends, who informed them that he had met with an accident and asked them to rush to a hospital in Powai.

Lina said, “Dey had given us a few thousands to perform repairs of the house — I took that money, a bottle of water and a huge bundle of bandages to dress my mother’s wounds — we thought we would be spending the next few days in the hospital, until Dey recovered and returned home. But when we reached there, my brother was not moving. He had left us alone and gone.” She continued, “No matter where he went, Dey would stay in touch with us. He kept calling us, but now we seldom hear the phone ring. Dey’s phone number was the only one we remembered, and we still can’t erase it from our minds. We remember dialing that number and hearing his voice at the other end, saying, ‘Chinta mat kar, mai hai na, everything will be fine’.” 

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