Press unions decry killing of scribe Shashikant Warishe

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, February 9: Press Club of India, Press Association and Delhi Union of Journalists on Thursday strongly condemned the cold blooded murder of journalist, Shashikant Warishe, 48, of Maharashtra in broad daylight allegedly by a notorious land mafia who was exposed by the scribe through his series of writings.

“The heinous murder of Shashikant has sent shock waves all over the country. He was run over inside a petrol station in Ratnagiri on Tuesday a day after he wrote an expose on a controversial refinery project in Konkan. The accused Pandharinath Amberkar, a land mafia, who had featured in his article on Monday was allegedly driving the SUV,” Uma Kant Lakhera, president of the Press Club of India said in a statement.

The accused has been arrested and charged with murder. PCI, PA and DUJ while condemning the brutal crime demanded that a high-level probe by a sitting High Court judge or retired Supreme Court Judge should be couducted into the incident. “The Maharashtra Government should also announce suitable ex-gratia to the journalist’s family and ensure protection to family members and witnesses,” demanded Lakhera on behalf of the press unions.

The accused Amberkar is said to be a supporter of the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical project that Shashikant Warishe had written about in a series of articles in Marathi newspaper, added the PCI, which also noted that “it is also alarming that the accused has been seen in photos with many top nationals leaders as well as of the state”. His stories on the refinery project found support by local residents who were opposed to the project and land acquisition, added Lakhera.

The brutal murder has seriously affected standards of civil liberties and freedom of the press. Only a high-level judicial probe can bring the facts to light and ensure security to journalists, he noted.

It may be noted that killings of journalist in the non-conflict zone are rising amid declining protection of the presspersons globally. “While the number of journalists killed in countries in conflict rose to 23 in 2022, compared with 20 the previous year, the global increase was primarily driven by killings in non-conflict countries. This number almost doubled from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 in 2022, representing three-quarters of all killings last year,” UNESCO had earlier stated in a report.

Some of the reasons why the journalists were killed were due to reprisals for their reporting on organized crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism. Others were killed for covering sensitive topics such as corruption, environmental crime, abuse of power and protests.

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