The Thane Crime Branch has arrested five more persons, including a technician from Odisha, in connection with the petrol pilferage racket that came to light in June this year, a senior official said on Thursday. According to the official, with these arrests in the last couple of days, the number of people arrested in the case has gone up to 29.
The official also informed that total 176 petrol pumps in Maharashtra and two in Odisha have been raided in this connection so far. “So far as many as 29 persons– five petrol pump owners, six managers, seven private technicians, eight official technicians, one former software engineer, one IC manufacturer and one agent– have been arrested,” senior police inspector of Thane Crime Branch, Unit-I, Nitin Thackeray said.
He said, the five accused arrested in the last couple of days were identified as Vinod Ahire, a technician from Raigad district, Jaydas Tare, owner of Samartha Kripa petrol pump in Raigad, Sanjaykumar Sarjuprasad Yadav, Sai Katai petrol pump dealer in Kalyan, Balaram Gaikwad of owner Sadguru petrol pump at Hajimalang in Kalyan and Dambrudhar Mohanto, a technician from Odisha.
According to Thackeray, as part of the investigation, raids were conducted at as many as 176 petrol pumps in 21 districts of Maharashtra– Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Pune, Satara, Dhule, Jalgaon, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Yavatmal, Amravati, Kolhapur, Sangli, Palghar, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Osmanabad and Latur. Besides, two petrol pumps in Odisha were also raided as part of the probe. “The raids were conducted at 87 Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) pumps, 69 Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) pumps, 14 Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) pumps and eight ESSAR ones,” he said.
Thackeray said in June, a complaint about petrol pilferage racket operating in Maharashtra had been filed at Manpada police station in Thane and the Crime Branch had taken up the investigation. “As part of the probe, police conducted raids and found that the calibration of the dispensers in the pump was tampered with, which ensured that the quantity of petrol dispensed would be a little less than what the display panel on the machine showed,” he said.
The accused changed the programme in the ICs (integrated circuits) placed in the dispensers by tampering with the pulsar cards, mother boards, control cards and key pads, and ensured dispensing of less fuel from the dispensers to the customers, the official added.
The accused have been booked under different IPC sections, including section 265 (fraudulent use of false weight or measure), 267 (making or selling false weight or measure), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 471, 473 (Making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc, with intent to commit forgery), Thackeray said.
They have also been booked under Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel (Regulation of Supply and Distribution and Prevention of Malpractices) Order, 2005 and under different sections of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, he said. Further investigation into the case is on.