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Madhya Pradesh journalist set on fire by mining mafia

Balaghat (MP): In yet another attack on mediapersons in recent days, the burnt body of a 40-year-old journalist from Madhya Pradesh was found in Maharashtra’s Wardha district.

The journalist, Sandeep Kothari, was allegedly set ablaze by three people with links to the sand mafia in Madhya Pradesh after Kothari refused to withdraw a court case.

Police said on Sunday that the body of Kothari, who was abducted from Katangi tehsil in Balaghat two days ago, was found near railway tracks in Sindi town in the Wardha district of east Maharashtra on Saturday night. 

Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Soni said Kothari’s body was identified by his brother. 

Police have already arrested three people, identified as Rakesh Nasvani, Vishal Dandi and Brijesh Duharwal — all from Katangi — in connection with the murder. 

Sub-divisional officer of police (SDOP) JS Markam said the police suspected that the trio were engaged in illegal mining and were also running chit-fund companies. He said they had allegedly kidnapped Kothari and set him ablaze. 

They were reportedly pressuring 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. 

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

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

A four-wheeler hit his bike and its occupants reportedly bundled him inside the vehicle and fled before beating up Kothari’s friend, the SDOP said. 

Police have seized the car used to kidnap Kothari, he added. 

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) demanded a CBI probe into the murder, saying that the scribe’s family was being tormented by the sand mafia as he had exposed their activities. 

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

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