Today marks the second anniversary of the day investigative journalism suffered a body blow. J Dey, a crime reporter of steel fibre and compelling spirit, was gunned down on June 11, 2011 near his Powai house by four bike-borne sharpshooters. The outrage the shootout caused was overwhelming. Since the day, the Crime Branch, under pressure from the press and the government to nail the murderers, made 11 arrests and filed two chargesheets.
But that is little consolation for his wife, Shubha, who has to live the horror every day. She shares here the ordeal she suffers, and the pain of justice delayed: One more year has gone by in a whirl. I’m trying my best to stand still in the vortex of a memory that shattered my peace.
I call out to him to come home, and all I hear is an empty silence. The world rushes about me, saying it’s time I “moved on”. And I feebly ask: How could they forget? They made all the right noises. They wrote reams of eloquent prose. They marched through the city. They lit candles and put up banners. They said they’d lost a friend.
Where has the fight gone?
He went with bullets in him, but I faced them for months as they cast aspersions on his character, questioned his work, his integrity and even his life. They didn’t even spare our little space together. “He went too far,” said one. “Hobnobbed with the wrong people,” said another. The speculation and gossip tore through my being and all I could do was try and stand still.
My life changed in 15 minutes from the time he called to say he was coming home for lunch. There was no armour for this battle. I had to look at his favourite shirts, his tea cup, his chair at home, and shut the dark closet of memories associated with each of them - I had no strength to enter it now. I would shut down for days at a stretch, not wanting to run with a world that didn’t care or even call. I wanted to reach out to him, touch him, know he was there for me. And I had to admit – there was nothing there.
It took a museum in Washington to recognise him. While his own people cowered in fear. Few asked hard questions, such as who got him killed and why. I’m bracing myself for more silence. Between June 11, 2011 and now, I have seen a million shadows lurk in the dark.