G is a 24 hour digital bureau: The death of a journalist in Maharashtra has evoked grief, anger and demands for an investigation among the common people. Shashikant Warishe, 48, was crushed to death by a car in front of a petrol pump in Ratnagiri on Tuesday. He wrote an exposé on a controversial refinery project. This happened a day later. The person allegedly driving the gurney involved in the accident has been identified as Pandharinath Amberkar. He is a land dealer. Sashikant highlighted his in Monday’s article.
Warish died while undergoing treatment at the hospital. Amberkar, 42, has been arrested and charged with murder. He was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Monday’s article by Warish in the Mahanagari Times described Amberkar as a ‘criminal’ who took pictures with top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis.
Amberkar is said to be a supporter of Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Project about which Shashikant Warishe wrote in several articles in Marathi newspapers.
Several media organizations have demanded an investigation into Warish’s death. They alleged that Warishe was killed because of his reporting on the multi-billion dollar project. Many local people opposed the project on the question of land acquisition.
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In a statement on Wednesday evening, the Mumbai Press Club said the ‘brutal killing in public’ was a ‘low standard of civil liberties and freedom of expression and a blatant attempt by both state and non-state parties to undermine credible media reporting that has caused them inconvenience’.
Warish wrote several reports highlighting ‘local resistance to a petroleum refinery in Barsu’. The statement said that recently the banner had been put up in his writings where Amberkar was shown alongside the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister.
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The Mumbai Press Club alleged that ‘Amberkar, the leader of the local land mafia, was known to threaten and harass those resisting the acquisition of land for the proposed refinery’.
A group of Marathi journalists also met Devendra Fadnavis to press for an investigation.
The Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Project, initially planned to be built at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district of coastal Konkan. It was canceled before the 2019 national elections at the request of the Shiv Sena. At that time they were in alliance with the ruling BJP.
The Center last year indicated to restart the project elsewhere.
Rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) called for a ‘free of influence’ ‘fully independent’ investigation and protection for the slain journalist’s family and witnesses.
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