Broad Daylight Murder of Journo; Man Named in His Expose Arrested

Mumbai: Shashikant Warishe (48) was run over in public at a petrol station in Ratnagiri of Maharashtra on Tuesday. This incident occurred a day after an article written by him exposing clandestine deals related to a controversial refinery project in Konkan got published.

The journalist was run over by an SUV allegedly driven by Pandharinath Amberkar, a land dealer who was named in the article on Monday. Amberkar (42) was arrested and charged with murder.

On Monday, Warishe’s article in the Mahanagari Times had described Amberkar as a “criminal” who had been photographed with top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis. He is said to be a supporter of the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical project. Shashikant Warishe had written a series of articles in Marathi newspapers about this project and the nefarious deals related to it.

Media organisations alleged that Warishe was killed because of his stories on the multi-billion-dollar project strongly opposed by locals over land acquisition.

The Mumbai Press Club termed the journalist’s death a “brutal, public murder” that revealed the “plummeting standards of civil liberties and free speech and brazen attempt by both state and non-state players to crush any media reporting that proves to be inconvenient.”

“Amberkar, a leader of the local land mafia, was known to threaten and harass those who resisted any land acquisition on behalf of the upcoming refinery,” the Mumbai Press Club alleged.

Rights organisation People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) has called for a “totally independent” probe “free of any influence” and protection for the journalist’s family and witnesses.

The Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical project, earlier planned at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district in coastal Konkan, was shelved in 2019. In 2022, the Centre hinted at reviving the project at another site.

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