Accused in Sonawane murder case allege he demanded ''bribe''

Mumbai, Jan 30 (PTI) Some of the accused in YashwantSonawane murder case have alleged in statements to police thatthe slain officer had demanded a "bribe" to settle the matterwhen he spotted oil adulteration near Manmad on January 25.

The police, however, said such counter-accusationsare common.

The investigating officers have recorded statements ofthe 10 accused who are in police lock-up, while the mainaccused Popat Shinde''s statement is yet to be recorded, policesaid.

In his statement, Kunal Shinde, Popat''s son, allegedthat additional collector Sonawane had demanded "a huge amountof bribe" to settle the matter at Sagar dhaba near Manmad inNashik district, when he spotted oil adulteration there.

"There are some allegations (against Sonawane)... Butgenerally such allegations are made by the accused to defendthemselves. We are probing the matter from all angles," saidMilind Bharambe, Superintendent of Police at Nashik.

"These allegations will not weaken the case. I can''tsay more on this as it is a very sensitive matter," he added.

Seeing the oil adulteration in process, Sonawanestopped his car, and after learning that pilferage was takingplace at Popat''s behest, the additional collector thensummoned him, police sources said, quoting the accused''sstatements.

Summing up the statements of all the accused, thesources said Popat reached the spot and after an argument, heapparently poured kerosene on Sonawane, and set him afire.


"During the brief discussion, Popat tried to convince Sonawane that he would pay the bribe later. But the bureaucratwas allegedly not ready to wait, leading to the gruesomeincident," the sources said.

Eleven persons have been arrested in connection withthe murder. The main accused Popat has been admitted instate-run J J Hospital here with severe burns. He receivedinjuries when Sonawane held on to him after he was set onfire.

Popat''s condition is serious and he has been keptunder observation, doctors said.

The police are yet to record his statement. "We tried(to record Popat''s statement) but he is not able to speak. Hiscondition is still critical," said Samadhan Pawar, DeputySuperintendent, Nashik.

According to the FIR, Popat, helped by his son Kunal,and their aides Balerao and Shirsat, poured kerosene onSonawane and torched him.

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