The National Investigation Agency (NIA) late on March 13 arrested assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze in a case pertaining to recovery of an explosives-laden car that was found abandoned near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s mansion Antilla in Mumbai on February 25. The car’s immediate owner — Mansukh Hiren, a resident of Thane — was found dead under suspicious conditions in a creek on March 5.
The case was transferred to NIA on March 8 from the Maharashtra Police.
An NIA spokesperson said that Mr. Vaze was arrested at 11.50 p.m. on March 13. The NIA spokesperson added that the Mumbai Police Crime Branch officer has been arrested for his “role and involvement in placing explosives laden vehicle near Carmichael Road" on February 25.
The case being probed by NIA is registered under various sections of forgery, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and Explosives Act.
Earlier in the day, a Thane court rejected the interim bail plea of the Mumbai Crime Branch officer who is a former member of the Shiv Sena and in his previous stint as a police officer has been accused of custodial killing . He was under suspension since 2004, and was reinstated in June 2020 by the Maharashtra government.
The suspicious death of Hiren is being probed by the Maharashtra Police.
Hiren's wife Vimla had told the Maharashtra police that her husband was in touch with Mr. Vaze and had been using the vehicle that was found near Ambani mansion in February.
On March 13 morning, before the NIA questioning, Mr. Vaze posted a status message on WhatsApp, which said that “the time to say goodbye to the world is coming closer”.
“3rd March 2004. Fellow officers from the CID arrested me in a false case. That arrest inconclusive till date,” his message said.
On March 8, the NIA said it has received orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to probe the case.
“NIA has received orders from MHA, Government of India for investigation of case FIR 35/2020 registered at PS Gamdevi on 25.02.2021. This case relates to recovery of explosives from a Mahindra Scorpio parked at Carmichael Road, Mumbai. NIA is in the process of re-registering the case,” the spokesperson had said.
The Scorpio, with 20 gelatin sticks , was found near Mr. Ambani's high-rise south Mumbai home on February 25. Police had said the vehicle was stolen from Airoli-Mulund Bridge on February 18.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had informed the State Assembly on March 5 that Hiren was not the owner of the car and that the real owner had handed it over to Hiren for some interior work.
As per Thane Police, Hiren, who was in vehicle spare business, left his shop around 8.30 p.m. on March 4 in an autorickshaw and since then his phone was switched off. His family then lodged missing person complaint. His body was fished out from creek area on March 5.