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16 cops hurt in oil mafia assault

Days after oil mafia killing Malegaon additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane in Manmad, the oil mafia struck again on Tuesday.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2011 18:47 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

Days after oil mafia killing Malegaon additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane in Manmad, the oil mafia struck again on Tuesday. A police team which had gone to raid an oil adulteration den at Rajurwadi near Umrer, some 40 kms from here, was assaulted on Tuesday morning.

A police party of Nagpur (rural), led by Dy SP Sudhakar Palandurkar, went to investigate that a consignment of kerosene had been illegally brought in and was being adulterated at the residence of one Pannalal Rajput at Rajurwadi. When the police team reached the spot, some unidentified persons, most of them belonged to Pardhi community, suspected to be Rajput’s henchmen, began pelting stones and some even charged at them and attacked them with axes. The miscreants even damaged police vehicles.

Sixteen police personnel, including Palandurkar and police inspector Madhukar Gite sustained injuries following indiscriminate stone pelting and were rushed to the municipal hospital at Umrer. However, no one was seriously injured in the attack.

The incident comes days after the government launched a crackdown on adulteration dens around kerosene depots across Maharashtra.

Palandurkar said they have seized 350 litre of kerosene while three barrels of kerosene were destroyed by Rajput’s wife and his associates as soon as police team reached the village. "We had specific information that Rajput was involved in kerosene adulteration for last several years," he added.

The police officer informed, “When we reached there, the villagers gheraoed us and indiscriminately pelted stones on us.” He claimed that it was a murderous attack on the police team by Rajput’s henchmen. The principal accused, Rajut is absconding, he said.

Later, police resorted to lathi charge on them and that led to flee of all villagers from the village. A population of around 250 people, dominated by pardhi--a nomadic tribe-- the Rajurwadi village, has now become a desert after the incident.

“Police first assaulted the villagers and that had led to the incident,” alleges Durga Pardhi, an aged woman of the village.

The investigations threw up more shocking revelations. The police seized some Maoist literature from Rajput’s residence. "We are investigating the matter and probing whether there is a link between naxalites and Rajput exists," the police officer said.

However, Maharashtra minister for civil supplies, Anil Deshmukh disputed the claim of Nagpur police and said that Pardhi community sells illegal liquor for years. "The kerosene seized from the site was being used for domestic purpose. They might have attacked the police in fear that the team reached there to raid the illegal liquor den," he claimed.

The district collector, Pravin Darade said that the district administration would investigate the matter and inquire how Rajput could procure barrels of kerosene despite the fact that he was not a licensee. The sub-divisional officer of Umrer, Sanjay Dhiwre will probe the matter.

Rajput, a leader of local pardhi community has been engaged in the adulteration business for years. He is the lone non-pardhi resident of the village.

The police claimed that the situation was soon brought under control after they swung into action sending additional forces in the trouble area. As many as 19 persons were arrested in this connection, so far.