Some of the accused in the Yashwant Sonawane murder case have alleged in statements to the police that the slain officer had demanded a 'bribe' to settle the matter when he spotted oil adulteration near Manmad on January 25.
The police, however, said such counter-accusation by the accused are common. The investigating officers have recorded statements of the ten accused, who are in police custody, while main accused Popat Shinde's statement is yet to be recorded, police said.
In his statement, Kunal Shinde, Popat's son, alleged that additional collector Sonawane had demanded 'a huge amount of bribe' to settle the matter at Sagar dhaba near Manmad in Nashik district, when he spotted oil adulteration there.
"There are some allegations (against Sonawane). But generally such allegations are made by the accused to defend themselves. We are probing the matter from all angles," said Milind Bharambe, Nashik's superintendent of police.
"These allegations will not weaken the case. I can't say more on this as it is a very sensitive matter," he added.
Seeing the oil adulteration in progress, Sonawane stopped his car, and after learning that pilferage was taking place at Popat's behest, the additional collector then summoned him, police sources said, quoting the accused's statements.
Popat reached the spot and after an argument, he apparently poured kerosene on Sonawane and set him afire.
"During the brief discussion, Popat tried to convince Sonawane that he would pay the bribe later. But he was not ready to wait," claimed the accused.
Eleven persons have been arrested in connection with the murder. The main accused Popat has been admitted in state-run J J Hospital in Mumbai with severe burns. He received injuries when Sonawane held on to him after he was set on fire.
Popat's condition is serious and he has been kept under observation, doctors said. The police are yet to record his statement.
"We tried (to record Popat's statement) but he is not able to speak. His condition is still critical," said Samadhan Pawar, deputy superintendent of police in Nashik.
According to the FIR, Popat, helped by his son Kunal and their aides Balerao and Shirsat, poured kerosene on Sonawane and torched him.