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Sonawane demanded `bribe`: Accused

The police, however, said such counter-accusations are common.

Updated: Jan 30, 2011, 17:34 PM IST

Mumbai: Some of the accused in Yashwant Sonawane murder case have alleged in statements to police that the slain officer had demanded a "bribe" to settle the matter when he spotted oil adulteration near Manmad on January 25.

The police, however, said such counter-accusations are common.

The investigating officers have recorded statements of the 10 accused who are in police lock-up, while the main accused Popat Shinde`s statement is yet to be recorded, police said.

In his statement, Kunal Shinde, Popat`s son, alleged that additional collector Sonawane had demanded "a huge amount of bribe" to settle the matter at Sagar dhaba near Manmad in Nashik district, when he spotted oil adulteration there.

"There are some allegations (against Sonawane)... But
generally such allegations are made by the accused to defend
themselves. We are probing the matter from all angles," said
Milind Bharambe, Superintendent of Police at Nashik.

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

Seeing the oil adulteration in process, Sonawane
stopped his car, and after learning that pilferage was taking
place at Popat`s behest, the additional collector then
summoned him, police sources said, quoting the accused`s
statements.

Summing up the statements of all the accused, the
sources said Popat reached the spot and after an argument, he
apparently 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 bureaucrat
was allegedly not ready to wait, leading to the gruesome
incident," the sources said.

Eleven persons have been arrested in connection with
the murder. The main accused Popat has been admitted in
state-run J J Hospital here with severe burns. He received
injuries when Sonawane held on to him after he was set on
fire.

Popat`s condition is serious and he has been kept
under 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. His
condition is still critical," said Samadhan Pawar, Deputy
Superintendent, Nashik.

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

PTI