DIPHU, June 5 - After much deliberations and massive public outrage concerning widespread incidents of oil pilferage at Khatkati located along the borders of Assam and Nagaland, the Criminal Investigation Department, Assam Police began an investigation into the issue recently.
According to an official source, pilferage of petroleum products like petrol, kerosene and diesel have become common practice inside various private truck parking areas of Khatkati and its neighbourhood. Local residents allege that a group of oil mafia extracts petroleum products and lubricants from parked oil tankers (around sixty litres from each tanker) which arrive from various refineries and depots of upper Assam destined for Nagaland, Manipur and some locations of hill areas of Assam.
Local residents also allege that the organised criminal gang carries out a process of combination, grouping and mixture of the extracted oil by mixing various chemical solvents and low quality petroleum byproducts to maintain the quantity, density, hue, tone and tinge of the original produce.
The suspects whose names have surfaced after preliminary police investigation have been identified as Dinanath Shah, Shrikant Jaiswal, Lal Babu, Noval and Bipin who run individual squads of trained crew members to siphon out highly combustible petroleum products from the tankers.
This unchecked illegal business which is continuing in that area since a decade has not only affected the lives of automobiles on a huge scale but on a number of occasions has caused accidental fires and taken human causalities. Mention may be made about an attempted oil pilferage from a tank car (goods train toeing oil compartments) between Rangapahar and Dhansiri railway station years back.
The persistent oil pilferage by various methods became a sort of challenge for the police and law-enforcing agencies of Nagaland, Manipur and parent state Assam. Repeated attempts of the police force of Karbi Anglong district and the neighbouring Nagaland have failed to root out the organised gang which keeps on shifting its bases.
Recently in stepped-up operation against the oil mafia, Assam Police recovered a large quantity of barrels filled with petrol, diesel etc. The seized pieces include seven oil tankers, replicas of master keys for unlocking tankers and other material required for fuel transition, which were seized from a hideout.
The accelerated police action came after a devastating fire broke out from a fuel tanker in a public parking place near Bokajan by the side of NH 39 under Khatkhati police station allegedly due to oil pilfering. The inquiry team of CID officers suspects involvement of oil thieves behind the incident. Till the filing of this report, none of the key suspects were arrested in connection with the oil pilferage case.