Pandarinath Amberkar, accused in the killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe, had tried to kill environmental activist, Narendra Joshi, with a huge stone outside the Rajapur Session Court in September last year!

Joshi, general secretary of the Refinery Virodhi Sanghatana, spoke to FSC of his frightening escape from certain death, on the sidelines of a black badge protest by journalists’ organisations near the seat of government in Mantralaya in Mumbai today.

As he said, in this video, if police had taken more stringent steps to move quickly to investigate and secure the conviction of Amberkar, Warishe would have been alive today.

On Sept 12, 2022, Joshi and other members of the organisation were standing outside the courtroom , waiting for their cases on the irregularities in land acquisition for the mega crore refinery project to come up. Suddenly, Amberkar approached with a huge boulder in his hands and lifted it to smash it on Joshi’s head.

An alert fellow activist managed to push Joshi aside and save his life.

Joshi said the killing of Warish was not an accident as some people were tying to make out. “It was murder, not an accident.”

Even then, local activists say, police were dragging their feet to lodge an FIR but when it was the pressure from women activists who gathered in large numbers at the police station to protest the attack, that a case was registered under Sec 304 of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier in the day, journalists’ organisations sat at the foot of the Gandhi statue at Mantralaya in a silent, black badge protest against the killing of Warishe. They later submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister’s office to demand that the Warishe murder case be tried in a fast track court; that MCOCA should be applied on the accused Pandharinath Amberkar and a special public prosecutor should be appointed for the case. They also said that Warishe’s family should be given a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh.

The journalists’ organisations included the Marathi Patrakar Parishad led by Kiran Naik, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh’s President Narendra Wable, Joint Secretary Vishnu Sonavane, the general secretary of the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists Indrakumar Jain and the Mantralaya Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh president Pramod Doifode and secretary Pravin Purao. Members of the Refinery Virodhi Sanghatana were also present at the protest today.

Members of the Refinery Virodhi Sanghatana have also asked various questions of the police, including demanding that CCTV footage be collected from the nearby petrol pump and hotel. They fear that the accused’s close association with the Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant, may hamper investigation. In a Facebook post, Sachin Chavan of the anti-refinery organisation pointed out that ‘If appropriate action was taken against Amberkar for the attack on Joshi , perhaps Warishe would not have been murdered.

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