The National Investigation Agency (NIA) late on Saturday night arrested Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze after questioning him for 12 hours over the recovery of an explosive-laden vehicle near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, reported PTI. The NIA will present Sachin Vaze before a court on Sunday and demand his custody.
This came days after Vaze, was who was leading the investigating of Mansukh Hiren's death in the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU), was transferred to the Citizen Facilitation Centre at the Mumbai Police Headquarters.
Vaze was summoned at the agency's Mumbai office at Cumballa Hill in south Mumbai around 11.30 am to record his statement. NIA also called in two Assistant Commissioners of Police Nitin Alaknure and Sripath Kale for interrogation. Alaknure and Kale left the NIA office after over four hours. According to a report by the Indian Express, Alaknure, with the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, was the investigating officer in the bomb scare case before it was taken over by NIA. Kale, with the Anti-Terrorism Squad, is the investigating officer in Hiren’s alleged murder case.
An NIA spokesperson late on Saturday night issued a brief statement saying that Vaze had been "arrested at 23.50 hrs in NIA Case" related to the recovery of gelatin sticks in a vehicle parked near Ambani's house on Carmichael Road on February 25.
The NIA spokesperson said Vaze has been arrested allegedly "for his role and involvement in placing explosives-laden vehicle near Carmichael road" on February 25.
Vaze was arrested under Indian Penal Code Sections 286, 465, 473, 506(2), 120 B of the Indian Penal Code, and 4(a)(b)(I) of the Explosive Substances Act 1908.
The case was handed over to the NIA after the mysterious death of a Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiren, who had claimed that the vehicle had been stolen a week earlier. His body was found in a creek at Thane on March 5.
Hiren's wife had claimed that her husband had given the SUV to Vaze in November, which the officer returned in the first week of February. During his questioning by the ATS, Vaze had denied using the SUV that was in possession of Hiren.
Vaze had on Friday filed an application seeking pre-arrest bail. His lawyer A M Kalekar had requested the court to grant Vaze interim protection from arrest on the ground that he was cooperating in the investigation. Additional public prosecutor Vivek Kadu, however, opposed this and argued that the probe in the case was at a crucial stage.
The court, while refusing interim bail, noted that the charges in the case include section 302 (murder), section 201 (destruction of evidence) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC which are serious offences.
Vaze is also facing a trial on multiple charges, including murder and destruction of evidence, for the alleged custodial death of Khwaja Yunus in the year 2003.
A car carrying unassembled explosive materials was found abandoned at Carmichael Road in South Mumbai on February 25, near the house of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani. The owner of the vehicle, Mansukh Hiren, was found dead in a creek on March 5 in Thane.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)