Launching a crackdown on the oil adulteration mafia following the murder of additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane, the authorities carried out raids in over 200 places in the state and arrested as many as 163 people.
Sonawane was burnt alive on Tuesday by the oil mafia after he witnessed kerosene being stolen from an oil tanker at Panewadi, near Manmad, in Nashik district.
KP Raghuvanshi, additional director general of police, law and order, told reporters on Thursday that the 163 persons were rounded up in the past 36 hours.
In a short press briefing, Raghuvanshi said the department of civil supplies had spearheaded the raids and the police had extended its help.
Of the people arrested, 81 belong to the sand mafia, 78 to the oil mafia, and four are milk adulterators.
Raghuvanshi said the police were contemplating action against the arrested accused under the Maharashtra Provision of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDAA) as well as initiating externment proceedings.
“If the organised mafia syndicate is established, the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act [MCOCA] can also be invoked,” Raghuvanshi said. “There is a clear directive from the government to root out the adulteration mafia and we will explore all legal avenues to achieve the desired result.”
Home minister RR Patil said the police didn’t have the right to conduct raids.
“They are to accompany officials for protection. However, in a meeting with the chief minister and deputy chief minister, the police have been directed to crackdown on oil, milk and sand mafia,” he said.
Patil said he has written to the respective departments asking them to amend the laws and allow the police to carry out independent raids.