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Journalist Burnt to Death by Mining Mafia in Madhya Pradesh

Balaghat (MP): A 40-year-old journalist was burnt to death here by three persons suspected to be closely linked to the sand mafia. He was murdered over his refusal to withdraw a court case, the police said on Sunday.

The burnt body of Sandeep Kothari, who was abducted from Katangi tehsil in Balaghat district two days back, was found lying near the railway tracks at Sindi town in Wardha district of east Maharashtra on Saturday night.

Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Soni said that Kothari was out of bail for the last two months in a rape case. “His (Kothari’s) body was identified by his brother,” it said.

The BSP demanded a CBI probe into the murder, saying the journalist’s family was being “tormented” by the sand mafia in the past as he had “exposed” their activities.

Former MLA from Balaghat, Kishore Samrite said Kothari was falsely implicated in more than 12 criminal cases.

“He was externed as he wrote against and also lodged complaints against manganese and sand mafias and other high and mighty people involved in organised crimes. His family too was tormented by mafias,” said Samrite.

The police have already arrested three persons, identified as Rakesh Nasvani, Vishal Dandi and Brijesh Duharwal – all from Katangi – in connection with Kothari’s murder.

The Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) J S Markam said police suspected the trio were engaged in illegal mining and also running chit fund companies. He said they had allegedly kidnapped Kothari and set him ablaze.

They were pressurising Kothari, who was working as a tehsil correspondent for some Jabalpur-based Hindi dailies, to withdraw a case of illegal mining he had filed against some persons in a local court.

The police suspect Kothari was kidnapped and murdered because he refused to withdraw the case.

“We are investigating the case from all angles and a police team is camping in Nagpur. It will be premature to conclude the exact reason behind the kidnapping and killing,” Markam said.

Kothari was abducted on June 19 night when he was headed towards Umri village with his friend on his bike.

His bike was hit by a four-wheeler and its occupants bundled him inside the vehicle and fled before beating up Kothari’s friend Rahandle who was riding pillion, the SDOP said.

Police have seized the car used for kidnapping Kothari, he added.

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