Antilia bomb scare case: NIA probing whether Dawood Ibrahim gang had any role in Jaish-ul-Hind's threat message

The National Investigation Agency is probing whether a criminal with former links to the Dawood Ibrahim gang had any role to play in creating a channel on a social media messaging application under the name of Jaish-ul-Hind and sending a threat message after a gelatin sticks-laden SUV was found near Antilia, the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.

“After the threat message surfaced, the probe revealed that the message was sent from a mobile phone whose location was inside Tihar Jail in Delhi. The said information was immediately communicated to the Delhi police, who then informed the prisons department. On March 12, the prison department had found a mobile phone believed to have been used by a terror suspect lodged inside the prison. However, the deleted data retrieved from the phone could not conclusively prove that the threat message was sent from that phone. Instead, we have now received information that a man who earlier had links with the D-company and is lodged in Tihar Jail could be involved in sending the said message. We are verifying this information,” said an investigator.

Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday recovered an Audi car suspected to have used by suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze. The agency also suspects that businessman Mansukh Hiren could have been eliminated in this vehicle, and hence the vehicle was kept in the premises of a south Mumbai hospital where a team of forensic experts were examining it, sources said.

Explaining the sequence of events of the day Hiran had reported that his Scorpio had gone missing from Vikhroli, an officer said that Vaze’s personal driver had reportedly taken the Scorpio from Vikhroli area on February 17 and parked it in Saket building, where Vaze resides. On February 20, the SUV was taken to Commissioner office in South Mumbai where it remained till February 24.

“The vehicle was moved on February 24 and Vaze's driver drove it till Priyadarshini Park, where the gelatin sticks were placed in the Scorpio. Vaze then drove the Scorpio and parked it at Carmichael Road. He alighted from the SUV and sat in the Innova which was trailing the Scorpio and left towards Thane. However, on realising that he hadn't placed the threat letter inside the Scorpio, Vaze returned to the spot in a kurta-pyjama and dropped the threat letter inside the Scorpio," said the officer.

Narrating the events of March 4, the officer said, “Vaze had called Mansukh Hiren around 8.29 pm on March 4 and spoken with him for about 11 minutes and asked to meet him near Majiwada Junction in Thane. Hiran came and met Vaze, where both sat in a vehicle (believed to be the Audi recovered on Thursday) and we suspect that Vaze got off midway and the assailants present in the vehicle then drove away with Hiran towards Ghodbunder Road.”

He added, “Technical Intelligence has revealed that the vehicle in which Hiran was travelling had stopped at Gaimukh Chowpatty, which is around 10 kilometres from Majiwada junction. We suspect that it was at this spot that Hiran was killed here in the vehicle. Later, the body was disposed at Reti Bunder in Mumbra.”

The same night, Vaze had returned to south Mumbai and raided a bar and restaurant in Dongri around 11.30pm, to create an alibi. “Vaze left his mobile phone in his office before going to Thane and when he returned to the bar and restaurant, his colleague had brought along his phone and handed it to him. Another suspicious thing which came to our notice was that whenever a crime branch team raids a bar, they usually ask the local police to do the paperwork. But in this particular raid, Vaze’s team had done a ‘nil’ panchnama of the spot, which is basically that nothing suspicious was found at the place,” the officer said.

Sources also claim that a criminal could have been roped in for Hiran's murder and that the vehicle stolen from Aurangabad was meant for a larger conspiracy.

The NIA also conducted searches at a hotel and a club in south Mumbai on Thursday in connection with its probe in the Antilia bomb scare case and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren, an official said.

An NIA team reached Soni building, where the hotel and the club are situated, around 12.45pm.

Customers and staff members of the hotel were asked to vacate the premises, located near the Babulnath temple.

During the search, the NIA sleuths also made enquiries with a few people at the club and the hotel, the official said. The probe team left the place after more than three hours.

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