Addl District Collector burnt alive by mafia in Maharashtra

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Nashik/Mumbai, Jan 25 (PTI) In a brazen act, an additionaldistrict collector was today burnt alive in broad daylight ata roadside eatout at Manmad in Maharashtra''s Nashik districtby the local mafia during raids to uncover illegal hoarding ofkerosene and petrol.

42-year-old Additional District Collector YashwantSonawane, a Maharashtra-cadre officer, was accompanied by hispersonal assistant and driver when the shocking incident tookplace at the Sagar Dhaba at Panewadi town in Manmad, about 260KM from Mumbai.

Four persons, including the main suspect Popat Shinde,have been arrested for the gruesome killing, police said.

Shinde, who set Sonawane on fire, has been admitted to theManmad hospital with serious burn injuries.

Giving details of the incident, Addl DGP (Law and Order) KP Raghuvanshi said Sonawane had spotted a person taking outfuel from a parked oil tanker and questioned him. As the manfled from the spot, Sonawane immediately called the SupplyInspector to the spot to investigate.

As he was waited, some people came on motorcycles andstarted beating him up. Shinde, helped by his son, nephew andanother person, then poured kerosene on Sonawane and torchedhim, Raghuvanshi said.

Television images showed Sonawane''s body lying in an openfield.

"Sonawane had gone there to conduct a raid on the petroland diesel mafia," he said.

Nashik police said state revenue officials, headed bySonawane had conducted raids at the oil depots at Manmad''sPanewadi town last night, which irked those allegedlyadulterating oil.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said his government willnot tolerate such incidents. "We will take prompt action tobring the guilty to justice," he said..

Besides Shinde, those arrested were Gulabh Shinde, Sitaram Balerao and Raju.

"He was a very, very good officer," Deputy CollectorSarika Naik said adding such shocking incidents affect themorale of the officers in the discharge of their duties.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is on a visit toSatara district in western Maharashtra, said the incident wasa blot on humanity. If anyone dares to commit such atrocity onan officer, he should be dealt with sternly, he said.

"When I took charge, I had asked police officers to takeaction to ensure people live in peace," he said.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh said thegovernment will unearth the adulteration racket and takeaction against those behind the dastardly killing.

Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the attack on anofficer of his department was reprehensible. "We will nothesitate to apply provisions of MCOCA against the culprits,"he said.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly EknathKhadse said officers should get protection. They should getpolice protection while carrying out raids so that they can goabout their job without fear, he said.

"We will take up the issue with the government and compelit to take necessary steps," he said. The petrol mafia hastacit support of the government," he alleged.

PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said he had spoken to Nashikcollector and SP and directed them to take prompt action tonab those behind the killing.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Gazetted Officers Federationhas called for a day-long strike on January 27 to protest thekilling.

G V Kulthe, general secretary of the Federation, saidother unions will join the Federation members in staging amassive protest against the gruesome incident.

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