Shashikant Warishe (48), who used to work for Marathi-language daily Mahanagari Times, was mowed down by a four-wheeler on Monday at Rajapur area following which he was rushed to a nearby hospital. The brave journalist succumbed to injuries on 7 February.
PEC, Geneva statement
Geneva, 9 February 2023: Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, expresses shock over the killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe in Maharashtra and demands a fair probe to identify the culprit for punishing under the law. Warishe (48), who used to work for Marathi-language daily Mahanagari Times, was mowed down by a four-wheeler on Monday at Rajapur area following which he was rushed to a nearby hospital. The brave journalist succumbed to injuries on 7 February.
The committed journalist prepared a series of reports over the resistance by the local residents of Barsu locality against a petroleum refinery. On the fateful day, Warishe was riding his two-wheeler when a speeding SUV hit him and dragged for some distance. A local land mafia dealer named Pandarinath Ambekar, whom Warishe described as a criminal in his media reports, was reportedly driving the four-wheeler. Maharashtra police have registered a murder case against Ambekar and promptly arrested him.
“Killing of a journalist because of his/her media report is no way acceptable. In Shashikant Warishe’s case, he faced the brutal incident within hours of a published newspaper report against the accused. Maharashtra government must take the case seriously and punish the guilty,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC (www.pressemblem.ch), adding that Shashikant becomes the fourth journalist to be killed this year worldwide after Ashiqul Islam (Bangladesh), Martinez Zogo (Cameroun) and Michael Finlay (Canada).
PEC south-Asia representative Nava Thakuria reveals that India witnessed the murder of four journalists (Rohit Kumar Biswal, Sudhir Saini, Juned Khan Pathan and Subhash Kumar Mahato) last year. Its neighbour Pakistan lost journalists Sadaf Naeem, Arshad Sharif, Muhammad Younis, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasnain Shah, Murtaza Shar and Athar Mateen in different incidents. Similarly, Bangladesh witnessed the killing of journalists Hashibur Rahaman Rubel, Mohiuddin Sarker Nayeem and Abdul Bari to assailants, whereas Myanmar lost Aye Kyaw and Pu Tui Dim to military atrocities during 2022.
PUCL, Maharashtra statement
PUCL Maharashtra statement on killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe
February 8, 2023
PUCL Maharashtra shocked at ghastly killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe; demands justice for his murder; immediate cessation of land acquisition for refinery project
People’s Union of Civil Liberties (Maharashtra) is shocked at the ghastly killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe, mowed down by car allegedly driven by local land dealer, Pandarinath Amberkar, near the Rajapur highway, on Monday, February 6, 2023. Warishe, who sustained grievous injuries and was rushed to hospital by bystanders, died at 7 a.m. on February 7, 2023.
According to reports, the deceased journalist had published a news-report about banners with photographs of Amberkar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the local newspaper “Mahanagri Times”. The report appeared on Monday, February 6, 2023. According to eye-witnesses, Amberkar was driving along the highway in his SUV vehicle (MH08AX6100) when he spotted Warishe in his two-wheeler and turned his vehicle and drove into Warishe.
Photographic evidence clearly shows the manner in which Warishe’s two-wheeler was crushed under the wheels of the SUV. While details are awaited on the entire case, it was apparent that Warishe was targeted for his article in the newspaper that said that FIRs had been lodged against Amberkar for land grab intimidation.
PUCL (Maharashtra) believes that the killing of the journalist is designed to silence and intimidate all those who dare to speak up and to uncover the intimidation and land-grab that has been going on in the name of acquisition of land for the project.
There have been major violations of the civil liberties with the ongoing agitation of residents over the location of the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd in the eco-sensitive zone in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri district. Though the project was scrapped in Nanar, it has been shifted to Barsu-Solgaon villages barely 20 kms away. The local residents have continued to raise a voice against the destruction of the environment and expressed grave apprehensions of pollution due to the mega-crore refinery.
Several FIRs have been filed against residents who have been peacefully protesting against the project. Externment notices have been issued against members of the Refinery Virodhi Sanghatana whereas no action has been taken against the goons engaged by the company. Repression in the area has greatly increased with the locals not even being allowed to hold peaceful meetings. The Gram Panchayats of the area have issued several resolutions protesting against the high handedness of the authorities but to no avail.
Local residents who were organised under the banner of the Refinery Virodhi Sanghatna, to oppose the mega-crore Barsu-Salgaon refinery project in Ratnagiri district of Konkan in Western Maharashtra, have issued statements condemning the incident and demanding a thorough investigation, apart from immediate arrest of the accused. PUCL (Maharashtra) endorses this demand and adds that the police investigation must be totally independent and free of any influence.
In addition, PUCL (Maharashtra) demands that:
- The Police conduct a speedy and impartial investigation into the killing of Shashikant Warishe.
- The Police prosecute the accused Pandharinath Amberkar and any others found involved for the murder of Shashikant Warishe and that strict punishment be awarded to the perpetrators.
- The Maharashtra government ensure that no attempt is made to politically influence the investigation.
- The Maharashtra government announce adequate compensation to the family of deceased journalist Shashikant Warishe.
- The authorities ensure safety of the family members of Shahikant Warishe and grant protection to the witnesses in the case.
- All land acquisition process for the refinery be stopped immediately and that the criminal action including FIRs and externment proceedings initiated against the local residents / protestors be taken back immediately.
- The government desist from setting up or allowing polluting industries that endanger the ecosystem of the Konkan.
Mihir Desai, President
Lara Jesani, General Secretary