Even as over 80,000 gazetted officers in Maharashtra today stopped work in protest against the murder of Malegaon additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane by members of the oil mafia, state home minister R R Patil has ordered a crackdown on mafia networks and asked the police to provide full assistance to raiding parties.
After the orders from the government, the state police have started coming down hard on adulteration mafias in general. These include not only fuel but milk, sand mining, and other illegal activities across the state.
More than 200 locations have already been raided in several districts even as the state government employees were gathered at Nasik golf club for a peaceful protest.
''We have not announced the protest as a strike but we are shunning work to register our protest against this gruesome act which has shaken the government employees,'' president of the Maharashtra Gazetted Officers Association Mahasangh Ravindra Dhongade said.
Sonawne was burnt to death near Hotel Sagar, a dingy looking and seemingly insignificant 'dhaba' (roadside food joint) situated on a secluded road a few kilometres away from Manmad. Such locations are a safe heaven for the fuel mafia operating in and around Nasik. Some 11 alleged culprits have been arrested.
Manmad has major oil depots which supply fuel to at least 12 districts of north Maharashtra and Marathawada. Every day an average of 300 tankers are filled at the place and secured with an advanced lock before being dispatched.