Senior district official set afire by petrol mafia (Second Lead)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NASHIK - In a grisly incident that sent shockwaves through the state, a senior district administration official was doused with petrol and kerosene and burnt to death by a gang of petrol robbers when he raided their premises on the outskirts of Malegaon town here Tuesday.

Additional District Collector Yeshwant Sonawane, along with his secretary and driver, had gone to raid a warehouse on the outskirts of Malegaon where petrol and kerosene robbers and adulterators were believed to be operating.

According to District Collector P. Velrasu, when Sonawane raided the premises, the gang of petrol mafia attacked him, sprayed him with petrol and kerosene and set him on fire before escaping.

“Sonawane’s stunned secretary and driver attempted to give them chase and nab them but they managed to escape,” Velrasu said.

Sonawane, 44, was burnt to death within minutes even as his aides summoned the local police and district officials.

Nashik Superintendent of Police Uddhav Kamble said that a manhunt has been launched for the culprits, all borders to and from Malegaon town and the entire district have been sealed.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, state Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who is also the guardian minister of Nashik district, told mediapersons that the culprits responsible for the heinous act would be dealt with most severely.

A grim Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat vowed to book the culpits and try them under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar strongly condemned the incident and assured immediate action against the culprits.

Sonawane is survived his wife, who lives in Malegaon and two children, both students in Pune.

Meanwhile, all officers and staff of the state revenue department shall strike work Thursday to protest the incident, an employees union official said.

State government employees association general secretary G.V. Kulthe said the shocking incident has highlighted the might of the mafia and the vulnerability of government servants doing their duty in different parts of the state.

Kulthe urged the state government to take immediate steps to nab the culprits responsible for the heinous crime and give them the severest punishment under the law.

He urged the government to provide adequate protection to government staff while on duty in hazardous conditions and in dangerous areas to prevent occurrence of similar incidents.

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