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Cracking down on oil mafia  

Our hands are tied in going after oil mafia: Maharashtra DGP

MUMBAI: In a statement that has left the government red-faced, Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) D. Sivanandhan has alleged that a government resolution (GR) tied the hands of the police from cracking down on the oil mafia. Mr. Sivanandhan's remarks come in the wake of the gruesome murder of Nashik Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane last month.The DGP was speaking in Aurangabad on Wednesday in response to media queries. He said while the State decision prevented the police from going after the mafia, in the aftermath of Sonawane's killing, the government was now putting the blame on the force.

Charges refuted

Refuting Mr. Sivanandhan's allegations, Food, Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh told The Hindu that the comments were “totally wrong.”“Yes, there was a GR in 2004, which said that the police alone should not conduct raids as there were many complaints [of them taking bribes]. But his GR it was rectified in 2005 and the Police, Revenue and Civil Supplies officials were given back all the powers,” he said.

Not a deterrent

Mr. Deshmukh said the Essential Commodities Act was not as much of a deterrent as was the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act. “The latter empowers the Collector, Superintendent of Police and the Commissioner of Police to take stringent action, but few are aware of this,” he said.Commenting on the top officer's remark, a senior official from the State Secretariat, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu that the DGP should “not have said it” for it is likely to “instigate” the people even more.“It is an off-hand response to a question. Nothing prevents the police from asking if there is a case of wrong-doing. The police officer is empowered to take action. If he or she sees kerosene being mixed with diesel, can't that officer act?” the official retorted.

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