Sonawane was burnt to death by kerosene mafia at Manmad

The police have arrested nine persons in connection with the gruesome murder of Nashik Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane.

Sonawane was burnt to death by a kerosene mafia at Manmad on Tuesday after he caught them pilfering the fuel from a tanker.

“Six of the accused have been remanded in police custody,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Manmad) Samadhan Pawar told The Hindu.

Ajay Sonawane is the only accused who is absconding. Popat Shinde, the main accused, has suffered severe burns and is being treated in the J.J. Hospital here, police sources said.

“He is not even in a condition to give a statement. He hasn't been arrested,” Mr. Pawar said.

The police arrested Tausiq Altaf Sheikh (20) early on Wednesday. Kunal Popat Shinde, a co-accused and son of the main accused, was arrested near Shirdi.

The police also held the driver and the cleaner of the tanker which was pilfered.

“We have arrested the driver Hakkani Khan Rabbani Khan Pathan (49) and cleaner Imran Khan Hakkani Khan Pathan (20), from near Aurangabad. They will be produced in court on Thursday,” he said.

The police have seized the tanker.

Meanwhile, six accused were produced in a court in Manmad which remanded them to 14-day police custody. They were Vikas alias Viki Popat Shinde (20); Rajendra Devidas Shirsat (43); Macchindra Kachre; Kachru Piraji Suralkar (40); Sitaram Shankar Bhalerao (38); and Tausiq Altaf Sheikh.

All of them have been booked under Sections 302, 307, 353, 143, 147, 148, 149 of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.

CBI probe sought

According to sources, Sonawane's family has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the matter.

“When [PWD Minister] Chhagan Bhujbal visited us, we asked for a CBI probe,” Sonawane's nephew said.

Meanwhile, Malegaon observed a solemn Republic Day. People paid tributes to Sonawane. Even some powerlooms in the town remained closed as a mark of respect.

PTI reports:

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday asserted that his government would ensure severe punishment for the killers of Sonawane.

“Nobody will be spared. The accused have been arrested. My government has taken serious note of the ghastly incident and we will go into the root of the anti-social activities of sand and oil mafia and adulterators,” Mr. Chavan told journalists after launching the UID scheme in Mumbai.

He said government officials had been instructed to take adequate police protection while going to search or raid places of anti-social elements.

On the proposed strike of government employees on Thursday to protest the incident, Mr. Chavan said he understood their anger, but appealed to them to “please ensure that the common man is not affected due to this.”

To a question on allegations of nexus between politicians and the oil and sand mafia, Mr. Chavan said: “Conclusive evidence should be provided instead of vague allegations.”