Warishe, who sustained grievous injuries and was rushed to hospital by bystanders, died at 7 a.m. on February 7, 2023
Mihir Desai, Pic/Twitter
People’s Union of Civil Liberties (Maharashtra) has expressed shock at the 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.
In a statement, quoting reports, PUCL's Maharashtra chapter said 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.
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"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," the statement said.
It added that the PUCL 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," the statement said.
The PUCL demanded that the Police conduct a speedy and impartial investigation into the killing of Shashikant Warishe and prosecute the accused Pandharinath Amberkar and any others found involved for the murder and that strict punishment be awarded to the perpetrators.
"The Maharashtra government (should) ensure that no attempt is made to politically influence the investigation and 'announce adequate compensation to the family of deceased journalist Shashikant Warishe'."
The PUCL has asked the authorities to 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."