Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) released a statement on Tuesday, 7 February, condemning the death of a journalist in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra in a road accident. The BUJ, in its strongly worded statement, alleged that the journalist Shashikant Warishe's death was a "brazen broad daylight murder."
Warishe was grievously injured after a Mahindra Thar hit his motorbike at high speed on Monday outside the Rajapur petrol pump on the Mumbai-Goa highway. He was taken to Kolhapur for treatment but died the next day.
The Mahindra Thar belonged to one Pandharinath Amberkar, a local land agent. Coincidentally, Warishe, who used to work for a local Marathi newspaper Mahanagari Times, had published a story about Amberkar that day, detailing his criminal past. He had posted the clipping of the story in a WhatsApp group around 8 am. The accident took place around 1.15 pm.
"The killing of the journalist, in broad daylight, comes barely hours after he published a report in the Mahanagari Times, a local newspaper, about banners with photographs of Amberkar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Amberkar, the report said, was an accused in cases of land grab and of intimidation and force against activists opposing the mega-crore refinery project in the area."– Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists statement
The Maharashtra unit of People's Union for Civil Liberties too expressed shock at the death of Warishe.
"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," its statement read.
The police arrested the accused immediately after the incident and he was produced in the court, which remanded him to police custody till 14 February, Indian Express reported.
Warishe had regularly been writing about the citizens' concerns regarding the proposed oil refinery plant in the area.
"The area has been the site of intense agitation over the Nanar refinery where local agriculturists have been staunchly opposing the project as they fear it will destroy the environment, besides their lives and livelihood. While the MVA government scrapped the project, the project was shifted to Barsu-Salgaon, 20 kms away from Nanar. However, opposition from local groups has continued."– Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists statement
Warishe is survived by his elderly mother, wife and 19-year-old son.
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