D. B. S. Jeyaraj

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D. B. S. Jeyaraj
Native name டி. பி. எஸ். ஜெயராஜ்
Born (1954-05-21) May 21, 1954 (age 60)
Other names David Jeyaraj
Ethnicity Sri Lankan Tamil
Alma mater Jaffna College
Occupation Journalist
Religion Christian

David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj (Tamil: டேவிட் பியுவல் சபாபதி ஜெயராஜ்; born May 21, 1954; commonly known as D. B. S. Jeyaraj) is a Tamil Canadian freelance journalist. He currently writes articles for two Sri Lankan newspapers, The Daily Mirror and the Daily FT, and runs his news blog, dbsjeyaraj.com.

Early life and family[edit]

Jeyaraj was born on May 21, 1954.[1][2] His mother was from the village of Kaddaively near Karaveddy in northern Ceylon.[3] He was educated at S. Thomas' Preparatory School and Jaffna College.[3][4] After school Jeyaraj won admission to university but chose not to enrol.[5] He then joined Madras Christian College but quit, returned to Sri Lanka and took up law studies.[5] He abandoned this in 1977 to take up journalism.[5]

Jeyaraj is a Methodist Christian.[3] He married a Hindu woman in November 1992.[3][6]


Sri Lanka[edit]

Jeyaraj's journalism career began in April 1977 as a staff reporter for the Tamil language Virakesari.[3][5] He worked as the paper's correspondent in Batticaloa.[3] He moved to the English language The Island in November 1981.[3] Initially he reported on trade union and customs issues but was later assigned to cover Tamil politics and militancy.[5] He alsow wrote the popular "Behind the Cadjan Curtain" column for its sister newspaper, the Sunday Island.[7][8] He was deputy editor of the Saturday Review for a period and Colombo correspondent for The Hindu.[5] He was fired from The Hindu for exposing atrocities committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).[9]

Jeyaraj was in Jaffna in October 1987 when war erupted between the IPKF and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).[3] After collecting documents, photos and other information on the war's impact on civilians, Jeyaraj returned to Colombo via the jungles.[3] The Island carried his report, including an interview with LTTE deputy leader Mahattaya, on October 25, 1987.[3] Jeyaraj was arrested on October 26, 1987 and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Department on the notorious fourth floor.[3] A police officer told Jeyaraj that they would "keep [Jeyaraj] quiet until the Indian Army finishes the job".[3] After five days he was produced before the courts and released on bail but was ordered not to leave the country.[3] His friends advised him to travel abroad and Jeyaraj came up with the idea of applying for an overseas scholarship to overcome his travel ban.[3] With the help of Neelan Tiruchelvam he applied for the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.[3] After several appearances in court the Attorney-General's Department finally acknowledged that Jeyaraj had no case to answer and he was discharged.[3] He was accepted for the Nieman Fellowship and, although he no longer faced imprisonment in Sri Lanka, he decided to accept the offer.[3] Jeyaraj left Sri Lanka on September 14, 1988.[3]


The violence in Sri Lanka increased and Jeyaraj's friends, including Richard de Zoysa, advised him not to return to Sri Lanka.[3] He graduated from the Nieman Fellowship in June 1989.[10] He then went to Toronto, Canada to stay with a cousin. After a few months he was preparing to return to Sri Lanka when, in February 1990, de Zoysa was abducted and killed.[3] A fearful Jeyaraj chose to remain in Canada.[3]

Jeyaraj, together with some partners, started a weekly Tamil newspaper, the Senthamarai, in Toronto in October 1990.[3][11][12] The newspaper's, and Jeyaraj's, neutral editorial stance vis-à-vis the Sri Lankan Civil War was viewed with suspicion by both government supporters and LTTE supporters.[12] On February 14, 1993 Jeyaraj, his wife and friends were returning to their car after watching a Sinhala film at a cinema at the Ontario Science Centre when two young Tamil men approached Jeyaraj.[11] They asked him if he was the editor of the Senthamarai and if he had written anti-LTTE stories.[11] Jeyaraj told the men that it was not the right place to talk and to call him tomorrow.[11] Two more men appeared from the shadows and assaulted Jeyaraj with baseball bats and metal rods, breaking his leg and injuring his head.[11][13]

In June 1993 Jeyaraj and his wife started a fortnightly, later weekly, Tamil newspaper on his own, the Muncharie.[11][12][14] The newspaper reported on LTTE's loses, including those on Operation Thunderstrike and Operation Riviresa, whilst other Tamil newspapers glossed over the loses.[12][13] In 1995 advertisers, distributors and retailers of the Muncharie began receiving threats from LTTE supporters.[11] One shopkeeper is assaulted and a van burnt.[11] Copies of the newspapers were seized and dumped.[13] As the threats and intimidation continued the Muncharie circulation and revenue fell and in April 1996 it ceased publication.[11][12][13][14] Jeyaraj continued to receive threats from LTTE supporters.[11] Jeyaraj blames the World Tamil Movement, a Toronto based LTTE front, for the threats.[12][14]

Freelance writing[edit]

When the The Sunday Leader started in 1994 Jeyaraj contributed weekly articles from Canada but after a few months stopped due to his workload on the Muncharie.[15] Following the closure of the Muncharie in 1996 Jeyaraj took up freelance writing, writing a weekly column for the Sunday Island.[8][15] In 1997 he resumed working for The Sunday Leader, writing a column called "Searchlight".[15] By 1999 he had stopped writing for the Sunday Island and started writing a new column, "Cross Currents", for The Sunday Leader.[15] He also wrote The F-Word column for the paper and the Minor Matters column for its sister newspaper, The Morning Leader.[15] In 2007 he stopped writing for The Sunday Leader and moved to The Nation and its sister newspaper The Bottom Line but a change in ownership forced Jeyaraj to quit in 2008.[15][16] He then started writing for the The Daily Mirror.[15] He has also resumed writing occasional articles for The Sunday Leader.[15] In 2014 he started writing a column about films, "Spotlight", for The Daily Mirror's sister newspaper, the Daily FT.[8]

Jeyaraj has also written articles for Frontline and Tamil Times.[8] Jeyaraj has been associated with several news blogs including federalidea.com, transcurrents.com, tamilweek.com and dbsjeyaraj.com.[17] He obtained Canadian citizenship in 2004.[3] He visited Sri Lanka in October 2013 after an absence of 25 years.[3]


  1. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (August 30, 2009). "My friend Shanthi: A Personal tribute". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  2. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (November 5, 2010). "Will there be a violent resurgence of the LTTE soon?". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x David, Marianne (February 26, 2014). "D.B.S. Jeyaraj’s journey home". Daily FT. 
  4. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (July 28, 2012). "Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Indo-Lanka Accord". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (June 26, 2012). "Mervyn de Silva: reminiscences about a journalist colossus". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  6. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (December 23, 2014). "Minister Maithripala Sirisena’s Attempt in 2013 to Obstruct Justice to Safeguard Son Daham who Attacked Asela Waidyalankara". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  7. ^ Gunewardene, Prasad (July 16, 2006). "The man I saw in Amirthalingam". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 
  8. ^ a b c d "For action to protect D.B.S. Jeyaraj". Frontline (magazine) 14 (21). October 18, 1997. 
  9. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (May 27, 2013). "Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment is Rajiv Gandhi’s Political Legacy in Sri Lanka". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  10. ^ "Alumni: Class of 1989". Nieman Foundation for Journalism. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nallainathan, Meena (Spring 2007). "Staring Down the Tigers". Ryerson Review of Journalism. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "LTTE terror exported to far-off Canada". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). April 7, 1996. 
  13. ^ a b c d Funding the "final War": LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora, Volume 18. 2006. p. 16. 
  14. ^ a b c Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 45: War continues with brutality". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (June 17, 2012). "My Special Relationship With The Sunday Leader". The Sunday Leader. 
  16. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (May 5, 2012). "Thirty Sixth Birth Anniversary of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  17. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. "About". dbsjeyaraj.com. 

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