Taking a tough stance against the oil adulteration mafia, the state today invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against those who accused of burning additional collector Yashwant Sonawane alive near Manmad on January 25.
Sonawane, 46, was killed near Panewadi after he spotted oil adulterators stealing kerosene from a tanker. When he intervened, the accused doused him with kerosene and set him on fire, killing him.
Public prosecutor Ajay Misar told the Hindustan Times on Friday that the MCOCA has been invoked in the case. “The accused will be produced before the Nasik sessions court on Monday,” Misar said.
Under the MCOCA, statements of the accused recorded by an officer of the level of deputy commissioner of police is admissible in court as evidence. It is very difficult for the accused to get bail until the charge sheet is filed.
Misar said apart from prime accused Popat Shinde, who succumbed to burn injuries sustained when Sonawane caught hold of him after being set on fire, two more accused, including Shinde’s employee Raju Shirsat, have cases registered against them in the past.
The police have accused Shinde, two of his sons, Vikas and Kunal, and six other associates of murdering Sonawane.
Sonawane had gone to Chandwad to quell a protest by farmers who were angry at sudden crash of onion prices.
He was returning from Chandwad and was on his way to Nandgaon when he spotted someone stealing kerosene from a tanker parked near a roadside eatery called Sagar Dhaba at Panewadi.
When Sonawane started questioning the person who was stealing the kerosene, the latter ran away. Sonawane then called the local supply inspector to the spot and decided to wait for him to arrive.
A little later, Shinde arrived at the scene along with his two sons and some employees.
The police said the accused first assaulted Sonawane and then picked up the kerosene canisters that were lying there and poured the fuel on him and set him afire.
Sonawane died on the spot. Shinde, who suffered 65% burn injuries, died at JJ hospital in Mumbai earlier this month.