The Ratnagiri Police on Wednesday registered a murder case against Pandharinath Amberkar, who was arrested in connection with the death of a Marathi newspaper journalist Shashikant Warishe (48) from Rajapur.
On Tuesday, the police registered a case under Section 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against Amberkar, a local land dealer. The victim was writing about the land dealer.
However, the coastal district police altered the Section and involved murder charges after several media organisations claimed that after Warishe wrote against local land dealer Pandharinath Ambekar, the latter crushed the scribe’s bike under his car at a petrol pump near Rajapur on Monday. Warishe died of injuries at a Kolhapur hospital on Tuesday.
The media organisatins also met Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds charge of the Home Department, and demanded a probe.
Warishe, who worked for Mahanagari Times is survived by his mother, wife and 19-year-old son. Recently, he wrote an article against Amberkar titled ‘Photo of criminal alongside PM, CM and DCM claim farmers protesting against refinery’.
According to locals, the victim was extensively reporting on issues related to the setting up of the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited at Barsu in the district, which is being opposed by a large section of local persons as they fear pollution in the Konkan region, while the arrested-accused is a supporter of the project.
Earlier, cases were also registered against him for allegedly threatening locals who opposed the refinery.
The police said that on Monday when Warishe was on his bike near a petrol bunk on the Rajapur highway, an SUV driven by Amberkar mowed him down and dragged him for several metres.
“Soon, Amberkar fled from the spot, while locals rushed the victim to the hospital for immediate medical assistance. He succumbed to injuries on Tuesday,” the police said.
The accused was arrested and remanded to judicial custody till February 14.