Mumbai

NIA suspects Vaze of destroying video footage of his alleged role

Sachin Vaze being taken to a court by the NIA recently.  

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) suspects suspended police officer Sachin Vaze of destroying an unknown number of video footage regarding his alleged role in the murder of Thane resident Manuskh Hiran.

Mr. Vaze, assistant police inspector with the Mumbai Crime Branch, was arrested on March 13 for allegedly planting an explosives-laden car near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s mansion.

Mansukh Hiran, the last occupant of the Scorpio car that was found near the Ambani mansion Antilia on February 25, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on March 5 near Mumbra.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on March 20 transferred the probe into Hiran’s death that was earlier being investigated by the Maharashtra police to the NIA.

A senior NIA official said the murder case and the case pertaining to the recovery of explosives near Antilia would be merged. The Maharashtra police had earlier arrested another suspended Mumbai police constable Vinayak Shinde and a bookie Naresh Dhare for allegedly killing Hiran.

“Vaze knew Hiran and it is certain that he killed Hiran. We are making efforts to retrieve other DVRs [digital video recorder] that we suspect could have been destroyed by the accused. There would be many recordings available of Vaze’s movements on that night leading to the murder of Hiran, people who have knowledge of the incident should come forward,” the official said.

The NIA at the instance of Mr. Vaze on March 28 recovered a DVR, a laptop, a CPU and two number plates from the Mithi river that was dumped there by the accused. The DVR was allegedly removed from the housing society in Thane where Mr. Vaze lives.

Last week, Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant had claimed that when Param Bir Singh was the Police Commissioner, the DVR of the Mumbai Police Commissionerate disappeared from his office. He claimed that the State Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) officially took the DVR for investigation on March 10 but it was recalled by Mr. Singh’s office within two hours and since then it has disappeared. Mr. Vaze was reporting directly to Mr. Singh in the said case.

The NIA official refused to comment if the former Police Commissioner had been questioned or will be questioned in future.

The NIA has so far recovered half a dozen high-end vehicles used by Mr. Vaze.

The Mumbai Crime Branch officer, who is a former member of the Shiv Sena, was suspended earlier in 2004 when he was accused of custodial killing. He was reinstated by the Maharashtra government in June 2020 at the insistence of Mr. Singh. The NIA had on March 16 recovered a black colour Mercedes Benz used by Mr. Vaze that was often found parked near the Mumbai police headquarters. It was from this car that the NIA recovered the number plate of the Scorpio car (that was abandoned near the Ambani mansion), more than ₹5 lakhs, a note counting machine and some clothes.

Hiran’s wife Vimla had told the Maharashtra police that her husband was in touch with Mr. Vaze and it was the latter who was using the vehicle that was found near the Ambani mansion.

Hiran had told the police that the Scorpio was stolen from Airoli-Mulund Bridge on February 18.

As per the Thane police, Hiran, who was in vehicle spare business, left his shop around 8.30 p.m. on March 4 in an autorickshaw after getting call from a police officer called “Tawde” and since then his phone was switched off. His family then lodged a missing person complaint. It is suspected that it was Mr. Vaze who called Hiran and he was later killed after the latter refused to take responsibility for planting the explosives near Antilia.


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