David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj (born May 21, 1954; commonly known as D. B. S. Jeyaraj) is a Tamil Canadian freelance journalist of Sri Lankan origin. He currently writes articles for two Sri Lankan newspapers, The Daily Mirror with his own column in it and the Daily FT, and also runs his news blog, dbsjeyaraj.com.
Early life and family
Jeyaraj was born on May 21, 1954. His mother was from the village of Kaddaively near Karaveddy in northern Ceylon. He was educated at S. Thomas’ Preparatory School and Jaffna College. After school Jeyaraj won admission to university but chose not to enrol. He then joined Madras Christian College but quit, returned to Sri Lanka and took up law studies. He abandoned this in 1977 to take up journalism.
Jeyaraj is a Methodist Christian. He married a Hindu woman in November 1992.
Jeyaraj’s journalism career began in April 1977 as a staff reporter for the Tamil language Virakesari. He worked as the paper’s correspondent in Batticaloa. He moved to the English language The Island in November 1981. Initially he reported on trade union and customs issues but was later assigned to cover Tamil politics and militancy. He also wrote the popular “Behind the Cadjan Curtain” column for its sister newspaper, the Sunday Island. He was deputy editor of the Saturday Review for a period and Colombo correspondent for The Hindu. He was fired from The Hindu for exposing atrocities committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).
Jeyaraj was in Jaffna in October 1987 when war erupted between the IPKF and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE). After collecting documents, photos and other information on the war’s impact on civilians, Jeyaraj returned to Colombo via the jungles. The Island carried his report, including an interview with LTTE deputy leader Mahattaya, on October 25, 1987. Jeyaraj was arrested on October 26, 1987 and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Departmenton the notorious fourth floor. A police officer told Jeyaraj that they would “keep [Jeyaraj] quiet until the Indian Army finishes the job”. After five days he was produced before the courts and released on bail but was ordered not to leave the country. 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. With the help of Neelan Tiruchelvam he applied for the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. After several appearances in court the Attorney-General’s Department finally acknowledged that Jeyaraj had no case to answer and he was discharged. He was accepted for the Nieman Fellowship and, although he no longer faced imprisonment in Sri Lanka, he decided to accept the offer. Jeyaraj left Sri Lanka on September 14, 1988.
When 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. Following the closure of the Muncharie in 1996 Jeyaraj took up freelance writing, writing a weekly column for the Sunday Island. In 1997 he resumed working for The Sunday Leader, writing a column called “Searchlight”. By 1999 he had stopped writing for the Sunday Island and started writing a new column, “Cross Currents”, for The Sunday Leader. He also wrote The F-Word column for the paper and the Minor Matters column for its sister newspaper, The Morning Leader. 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. He then started writing for The Daily Mirror. He has also resumed writing occasional articles for The Sunday Leader. In 2014 he started writing a column about films, “Spotlight”, for The Daily Mirror’s sister newspaper, the Daily FT.
Jeyaraj has also written articles for Frontline and Tamil Times. Jeyaraj has been associated with several news blogs including federalidea.com, transcurrents.com, tamilweek.com and dbsjeyaraj.com. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 2004. He visited Sri Lanka in October 2013 after an absence of 25 years.