15 lakh Maharashtra govt employees strike work

Raids were held across the state to arrest those involved in oil pilfering. Around 250 cases of adulteration were registered while 180 offenders were arrested for adulteration in oil, milk and food items, government sources here said.

Daily work at the state secretariat in Mumbai and district administration offices was paralysed  as employees who registered their presence walked out to join the protest against Sonawane's killing.

"Employees at all departments of the state government including secretariat, sales tax, revenue and all others joined the protests against the killing," the state gazetted officers' association general secretary G D Kulthe told reporters here.

 The association is demanding protection to the officers and employees while on duty and severe punishment to assailants. Sonawane, an MPSC officer of 1992 batch, was set on fire on Tuesday by the oil mafia of Manmad, about 220 kms north east of Mumbai, in Nasik district. So far, 11 culprits have been arrested for the murder.

Haven of oil mafia
Located on the Mumbai-Kolkata railway trunk line, Manmad is at the junction of four national highways, a major halt for oil tankers. Home to large storage installations of major oil companies, Manmad is also the place where tankers are filled in with kerosene, petrol or diesel for further dispatch.

Twelve districts of the state are supplied kerosene and other fuels from Manmad depots of IOC, BPCL and HPCL. The tanker from which kerosene was being stolen by Potat Shinde gang belonged to the BPCL. The area has been a haven for the oil mafia.
Everyday an average of 300 tankers are filled at the place and secured with an advanced lock before being dispatched. The hotspots for fuel smuggling cartels are Panewadi, Chandwad, Dhule and several halts on Mumbai-Nasik stretch of the trunk line.
Fuel mafia gangs such as the one run by Popat, the prime suspect in the Sonawane burning case, have a tie up with transporters and security guards posted at the oil companies.

Once the tankers leave with fuel, a racketeer's network is alerted. Instead of heading directly for the consumer, the tankers are driven to the transfer points like the dhaba where Sonawane was killed.

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