Sonawane killing: Seven suspects arrested

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 18:33

Nashik/Mumbai: Seven persons were arrested for the murder of Additional District Collector Yashwant Sonawane, who was burnt alive by suspected members of a local oil mafia, as the victim`s family demanded a CBI probe into the incident.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan vowed to go
into the "root" of the incident after 42-year-old Sonawane was
done to death near Manmad in Nashik district on Tuesday.

He also ordered strict action against those indulging in
adulteration of fuel over which the state bureaucrat lost his
life.

"We are going into the root of this incident. What
exactly happened? Who are behind it?" Chavan said.

The last rites of the Additional Collector of Malegaon
district were conducted in Nashik last night. Several
government officials were also present at the funeral.

Police said the arrested seven persons are Popat Dattu
Shinde, Raju Shirsat, Kacharu Surode, Vikas Shinde, Sitaram
Bhosale, Dipak Borase and Tausif Shaikh Altaf Shaikh. Another
suspect Kunal Shinde is absconding, police said.

Popat Shinde, the prime suspect who also suffered burn
injuries in the incident, has been shifted to Nashik Civil
Hospital. Popat Shinde has two earlier cases in connection
with fuel adulteration registered against him.

According to the police, Sonawane was returning from
Chandrar village after reviewing the situation there in the
wake of a demonstration by onion farmers, when he found some
people adulterating kerosene in a tanker parked behind Sagar
Dhaba at Panewadi near Manmad.

Sonawane stopped and questioned them. He also called up
police.

Following this, Popat Shinde and three others allegedly
poured kerosene on the official, and set him afire. Sonawane
died on the spot.

There are oil depots of Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum
near Panewadi from where oil tankers fill up petrol, diesel or
kerosene.

The demand for a CBI inquiry was made by the Sonia`s
brother-in-law Anand Dani.

"Sonawane`s personal assistant as well as the driver
was there when the incident occurred. It is surprising that
only he was targeted," Dani said.

Mobile phone records of Sonawane should be checked and
the probe should be handed over to CBI, Dani said.

Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Eknath
Khadse, held Food and Civil Supplies department responsible
for the incident.

"Two months ago Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil
Deshmukh carried out the farce of conducting raids (on oil
mafia)," Khadse said.

Republican Party of India Leader and former MP Prakash
Ambedkar also demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.

Planning Commission`s Deputy Chairman Montek Singh
Ahluwalia said the incident was "distressing and tragic".

"Here is an officer who is actually doing his job in
very difficult circumstances and suffers this incredible
fate... It does reflect the fact that when you have a large
price difference which leads to market distortion which
creates a illegal market you develop not just vested interests
but effectively criminalised vested interests," said
Ahluwalia, who is in Davos in Switzerland to attend the WEF
summit.

PTI




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