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SUV with gelatin sticks found near Ambani’s house was stolen

Police and private security personnel stand guard outside Antilla, the residence of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai, that contained explosives, had been stolen last week, police said on Friday, adding that a letter found inside said the incident was only a “glimpse” of things to come.

The vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai, that contained explosives, had been stolen last week, police said on Friday, adding that a letter found inside said the incident was only a “glimpse” of things to come.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also started a parallel probe and contacted the Mumbai police crime branch, a senior official said here.

The SUV with around 2.5 kg of gelatin sticks was found parked on Carmichael Road near ‘Antilia’, the multi- storey residence of Mr. Ambani on Thursday evening. However, there was no assembled explosive device, detonators or batteries inside, the police said.

CCTV footage showed that the SUV was parked there in the early hours of Thursday, and its driver left in another SUV which had accompanied it to the spot.

“The owner of the vehicle, Hiren Mansukh, visited the Police Commissioner's office in south Mumbai this afternoon after he saw visuals of the SUV found near Ambani's house, which was similar to his vehicle,” the police official said.

Mr. Mansukh, a resident of neighbouring Thane, told reporters that he had parked the SUV near Airoli Mulund Bridge on February 17 after its steering got jammed while he was on his way to attend a family function.

“The next day, when I went to get my car, it could not be found....following which I lodged a complaint at Vikhroli police station,” he said.

The letter in the vehicle was in a blue bag next to the driver’s seat, while the gelatin sticks were kept in a packet with the name of its manufacturer, “Solar Industries, Nagpur”. The letter in Hindi but written in roman alphabets, purportedly threatened Mr. Ambani, his wife Nita and the family, police said.

Police said the letter had several spelling errors, which seemed to be an attempt to hide the writer’s identity, the official said, adding that the police were as yet clueless about the intention behind the act.

Satyanarayan Nuwal, owner of Solar Industries, said in a statement on Friday that he received a phone call from Mumbai police about the discovery of the gelatine sticks packet. As provided under the Explosives Rules 2008, all the data of production and sale of explosives by the company is submitted to the Explosives Department and police, it said.

The Mumbai police have formed at least 10 teams to probe the case. Police found that there were four number plates in the SUV, two of them matching the registration numbers of cars in the Ambani family’s security detail.

The number plate fixed on the vehicle’s exterior matched the registration number of the lead car in Nita Ambani’s convoy, the senior police official said.

The other SUV spotted near the parked vehicle on Carmichael Road was first seen entering the city from Thane around 1.20 a.m. on Thursday in a CCTV footage.

As it headed for south Mumbai, the other SUV joined it near Priyadarshani Park, and both cars then travelled together towards Antilia, CCTV footage showed.

Minutes after parking on Carmichael Road around 2.15 a.m., the driver of the vehicle with gelatine sticks stepped out and moved into the other vehicle, which then moved away and was seen returning to Thane through Mulund check post around 3.05 a.m. After that its track was lost, the official said. The number plate of the vehicle was also found to be fake, and it too seemed to have been stolen, the official added.

Earlier on Thursday morning, traffic police attached a clamp to the SUV parked near Mr. Ambani's house as it was in no-parking zone and generated an electronic fine receipt, but it did not arouse further suspicion then, the official said.

The chassis number of the parked SUV was found to have been scraped off.

The police said an FIR was registered in connection with the seized SUV at Gamdevi police station against unidentified persons under IPC sections 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 506(2) (criminal intimidation; and section four of the Explosive Substances Act (punishment for attempt to cause explosion).

Reliance Industries in a statement thanked Mumbai Police for “quick and immediate action”. “We are confident that Mumbai Police will complete their thorough investigation quickly,” it added.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 11:11:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/suv-with-gelatine-sticks-found-near-ambanis-house-was-stolen/article33944346.ece

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