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Who are members of the oil mafia? Violent, ruthless thieves

Last updated on: June 16, 2011 09:20 IST

Violent, ruthless thieves form the oil mafia

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The murder of veteran crime reporter J Dey has once again put Maharashtra's nefarious oil mafia under the scanner. Through various criminal acts, the men behind the racket have proved that they are no strangers to violence.

From the burning alive of Additional District Collector Yashwant Sonawane to the murder of petrol pump owner Mahendra Pratap Singh in 1994, the oil mafia has ruthlessly eliminated anybody who dared to question its activities.

In September 2010, Sayyad Chand Madar, who allegedly smuggled oil from marine vessels, was murdered. The police suspected that his murder was the result of a deal by the oil mafia gone wrong.

The police had then arrested Mohammad Ali Sheikh, an aide of Chotta Shakeel, for conspiring to murder Madar along with Samad Ismail Deshmukh alias Shaikh.

Reportage: N Ganesh


Image: A file photo of J Dey

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Dawood, Chotta Shakeel have a stake in this business

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It was reported that a telephonic intercept had revealed that Shakeel himself had ordered the hit on Madar.

Ashok Kadam, a vigilance inspector who kept a tab on oil adulteration, was murdered at his Trombay residence on October 31, 2001. Chetan Chheda, Lal Khan and Dhanraj Shah were accused of hiring four shooters to kill Kadam. The three men, who were involved in the petrol business, were acquitted by the sessions court in August 2009.

On January 25, 2001, police constable Rajendra Bhawsar was murdered at Ambad in Nashik. The accused in this murder case included Police Inspector Jagan Pimple, who was later dismissed, along with Dheeraj Yeole and Raju Kadam, an aide of Chhota Rajan. All the accused were acquitted subsequently.

 


Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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Manmad is a hub for oil pilferage

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Primarily, the oil mafia's operations cover two domains -- terrestrial and offshore.

The terrestrial oil mafia operates by stealing petrol and diesel from tankers that transport fuel from the oil depots.

Manmad, where IAS officer Yashwant Sonawane was burnt alive, houses the depots of IOC, HPCL and BPCL. The region near the depots has emerged as a hub for pilferage of oil from tankers.

To make up for the quantity that they steal from the tankers, the racketeers resort to adulteration with industrial solvents such as naptha for petrol and kerosene for diesel.

 


Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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Government wants to slap MCOCA on these criminals

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Some people who have been booked for oil pilferage and adulteration are Antim Totla, Khimji Kataria, Rajesh Gataliya, Lalit Nagpal and Tulsi Singh Rajput.

But the government's attempt to book them under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act has not yielded any result so far.

Notorious gangsters like underworld dons Shakeel and Dawood are reportedly also interested in the offshore oil mafia.

 


Photographs: K K Arora/Reuters
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Offshore oil pilfering a lucrative business

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Eager to make a fast buck, the crew of foreign vessels sometimes sell diesel in offshore dealings with oil racketeers. The diesel is transported into containers stored in tug boats which are brought to the shore and sold to petrol pumps.

The margin is high for all the stake holders. The crew of foreign vessels make an illicit profit since it is the shipping company that bears the cost of the fuel, while the oil mafia that purchases the fuel at Rs 12 per litre sells it to petrol pumps for a considerable profit at Rs 18 per litre.

The profit margin for petrol pump owners almost doubles as they don't have to pay taxes and the deal is not reflected in their account books.


Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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