Maharashtra crackdown on oil
mafia after official’s killing

MUMBAI — The authorities here launched a state-wide crackdown on criminals indulging in the adulteration of petroleum products and milk, just two days after members of an oil mafia in Malegaon, about 200 km north-east of here, killed a senior government officer by setting him on fire.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Fri 28 Jan 2011, 10:26 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 9:42 PM

About 250 people were arrested on Thursday as police initiated a joint action, taking on those adulterating petroleum products, milk and even indulging in the illegal mining of sand. But about 100,000 officials of the revenue department went on a daylong strike, protesting against the killing of Yashwant Sonawane, the additional district collector, who was posted in Malegaon. Sonawane noticed some gangsters steal petroleum products from the depots of state-owned oil firms near Manmad on Wednesday when he was heading on an assignment.

He stopped on the highway and sought police help to tackle the criminals. However, he was attacked by the gangsters, who also poured kerosene on him and set him on fire. About a dozen persons have been arrested in connection with Sonawane’s murder. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has ordered the police to take tough action against the mafia indulging in adulteration. Additional director-general of police (law and order) said here on Thursday that nearly 200 places across the state had been raided. The raids would continue as the authorities plan to intensify the campaign. R.R. Patil, the home minister, denied that any politicians name had cropped up in investigations into the killing of the additional collector. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had blamed Chhagan Bhujbal, a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, and state minister — who is also the guardian minister for Nashik district — for not initiating action against the mafia. There is widespread mixing of petrol with diesel and kerosene across Maharashtra because of the huge difference in the price of petroleum products. Both diesel and kerosene prices are controlled — with the state oil companies sustaining huge losses because of the subsidies — to protect the poor. —

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