THE brutal and daylight murder of Mumbai’s most popular tabloid’s star crime reporter at Hiranandani Gardens has opened a can of worms for the police and the political establishment in this metropolitan city which has been historically ridden by underworld activities. When Mid-Day’s crime bureau chief Jyotirmoy Dey was shot dead while he was on his way back home the events unfolded three uncomfortable questions about the State’s police and its political bosses.
One, several ministers in the State government had started to make condescending noises about J Dey minutes after his death as if to pre-empt any kind of adverse reaction from the news media. The State government had not thought that the killing would make the news media vent their spleen on the kind of security that exists for journalists today. Even after a week the police seem clueless about the killers.
Even as we go press, the Mumbai police has released three persons detained in connection with the murder of the senior journalist. With lot of pomp and glory Mumbai police had caught three suspects – Anwar, Mateen Iqbal Hatela and Shaikh – believed to be associated with gangster Chhota Shakeel for questioning to “ascertain their possible role in Dey’s killing”. However, they were let off.
The three suspects were believed to be working for the well-known gangster Shakeel who is a key aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The irony of the situation is not very hard to find. Our political masters are quick to point out how the media is muzzled in countries like Pakistan and Iran where there are no democratic systems as in India which can ensure relatively better freedom of the news media. But the killing of J Dey raises serious doubts over the freedom that is prevalent in India, especially with the stranglehold of the underworld on the police and the political class.
The new evidence coming out that an officer as high as Assistant Commissioner of Mumbai police Anil Mahabole is allegedly involved in the killing of the high-profile crime reporter in such a brazen manner also lends credence to the suspicion that everything is not hunky-dory with the police establishment. Not that this is any new revelation, but the hard evidence is now becoming a matter of concern for the civil society.
Not a long time ago film director Mahesh Bhatt had said that in Mumbai Bollywood actors have to constantly look askance at underworld’s undue interest in their business. The Assistant Commissioner of Mumbai Police Anil Mahabole who was quietly transferred to a low profile department to look after ammunition after the murder of J Dey tells a classic story of cover-up.
Anil Mahabole, a 1981 batch officer, was hand-picked by senior police officers during the probe into the Telgi scam. He was considered an authority on the subject of underworld in Mumbai. But Mahabole’s name cropped up in the now infamous Hasina Parkar (Dawood Ibrahim’s sister) case where he was suspended for allegedly demanding Rs 2 lakh from a builder and his brother in connection with this case. But strangely the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has now given him a clean chit.
Also Mahabole was accused recently for falsely implicating a fisherwoman, Rahima Shaikh, and senior inspector Sanjeev Kokil of MRA Marg police, in an extortion case. If the murder was gruesome enough, the State government’s behaviour of working on the sly also makes people suspect of foul play at the top level. In the days to come we will see how this story of freedom of the press pans out in India.