Shashikant Warishe

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

On February 6, 2023, Shashikant Warishe, a reporter for Marathi-language local newspaper Mahanagari Times, was hit by an SUV allegedly driven by Pandharinath Amberkar, a land-dealer who was the subject of Warishe’s recent reporting, on a highway in Maharashtra state’s Ratnagiri district, according to news reports and a report by the media watchdog Free Speech Collective. Warishe was dragged under the vehicle for several meters; Amberkar then fled the scene. The journalist was rushed to a local hospital and later transferred to a medical facility in the city of Kolhapur in a comatose state; he died of his injuries February 7.

According to news reports, police arrested Amberkar on February 7 and formed a special investigation team headed by a deputy superintendent of police to investigate the murder. The Indian Express reported that police claimed that Amberkar, who has been charged with murder, confessed that the journalist’s killing was pre-planned, and the police are probing the involvement of others in the crime. CPJ was not able to immediately find contact information for Amberkar’s lawyer for comment.

In a print report in the Mahanagari Times reviewed by CPJ that was published early February 6, prior to the killing, Warishe alleged that Amberkar was involved in illegal land grabs and had threatened locals opposed to the construction of an oil refinery. According to the Indian Express, Warishe had been covering concerns expressed by local residents and environmentalists regarding the refinery for the past two years.

CPJ emailed Dhananjay Kulkarni, the Ratnagiri district superintendent of police, but did not receive any reply.