NASHIK/MUMBAI: In a brazen act, an Additional District Collector was Tuesday burnt alive in broad daylight at a roadside eatout at Manmad in Maharashtra’s Nashik district by the local mafia during raids to uncover illegal hoarding of kerosene and petrol.
Forty two-year-old Additional District Collector Yashwant Sonawane, a Maharashtra-cadre officer, was accompanied by his personal assistant and driver when the shocking incident took place at the Sagar Dhaba at Panewadi town in Manmad, about 260 km from Mumbai.
Four persons, including the main suspect Popat Shinde, have been arrested for the gruesome killing, police said. Shinde, who set Sonawane on fire, has been admitted to the Manmad hospital with serious burn injuries.
Giving details of the incident, Additional DGP (Law and Order) Mr K P Raghuvanshi said Sonawane had spotted a person taking out fuel from a parked oil tanker and questioned him.
As the man fled from the spot, Sonawane immediately called the Supply Inspector to the spot to investigate. As he waited, some people came on motorcycles and started beating him up. Shinde, helped by his son, nephew and another person, then poured kerosene on Sonawane and torched him, Mr Raghuvanshi said. Television images showed Sonawane’s body lying in an open field. “Sonawane had gone there to conduct a raid on the petrol and diesel mafia,” he said.
Nashik police said state revenue officials, headed by Sonawane had conducted raids at the oil depots at Manmad’s Panewadi town Monday night, which irked those allegedly adulterating oil.
Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan said his government will not tolerate such incidents. “We will take prompt action to bring the guilty to justice,” he said. Besides Shinde, those arrested were Gulabh Shinde, Sitaram Balerao and Raju. “He was a very, very good officer,” Deputy Collector, Ms Sarika Naik said adding such shocking incidents affect the morale of the officers in the discharge of their duties.
Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Ajit Pawar, who is on a visit to Satara district in western Maharashtra, said the incident was a blot on humanity. If anyone dares to commit such atrocity on an officer, he should be dealt with sternly, he said. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Gazetted Officers Federation has called for a day-long strike on January 27 to protest the killing.