Prashant Gade, Maharashtra State Electricity Board's sub-divisional officer, was stopped, pushed around and roughed up Thursday night when he attempted to stop and book a person for stealing electricity.
Sensing the ugly mood of the crowd, Gade made a quiet retreat from the area. The incident took place in Sartale village in Javali sub-district, said Satara MSEB superintending engineer Gorakhnath Chavan.
"When I learnt of the incident, we decided to take it up seriously and send an appropriate public message," Chavan told IANS.
On Friday morning, over a 100 MSEB field engineers descended on Sartale and adjoining Bhisewasti villages and started a combing operation to detect cases of power theft, he said. Two people have been held so far and one of them has been identified as Bhise, who has a criminal background, Chavan said.
Officials revealed that nearly 20 percent of MSEB losses accrue due to rampant thefts of power, both by industrial consumers and domestic users, with the support of local mafia who enjoy political patronage.
However, the MSEB's efforts to bring down power thefts have borne fruit - from 35 percent in 2005, it has now come to around 20 percent, the official said. Sonawane was burnt to death in broad daylight by a gang of petrol robbers when he raided their warehouse near Manmad Tuesday afternoon.