Mumbai: After grilling Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze for over 13 hours, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) late on Saturday night arrested him in connection with Antilia bomb scare case. He will be produced before the court on Sunday, said the officials.
Sources claim that Vaze was apprehended on the basis of his suspicious involvement in the explosive laden Scorpio car being parked outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house on February 25. NIA officials claimed that Vaze was in constant touch with the car 'owner' Mansukh Hiran, who disappeared on March 4 and hours later found dead in a creek at Mumbra. Sources claimed that there are ‘strong evidence against him’.
Earlier on Saturday, Vaze who was summoned by the NIA, reached the agency's office at Pedder Road around 11 am on Saturday. He was later shown arrested in the case at 11.50 pm on Saturday.
"Vaze has been arrested in the offence registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section for negligent conducted with respect to explosive substance (286), punishment for forgery (465), making or possesion counterfeit seal (473), criminal intimidation (506(2) and criminal conspiracy (120B) along with relevant sections of Explosive Substances Act," said the officials.
The Mumbai crime branch initially investigated the case before it was taken over by NIA.
On Saturday, NIA has also recorded statements of Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Nitin Alakhnure and Shreepad Kale of Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). Kale is an investigation officer (IO) in Hiran's murder case. While Alakhnure was the IO in the Antilia bomb scare case.
During the course of investigation, NIA has so far recorded statements of several people including that of Hiran's family members, they also visited the spot in Thane where Hiran's body was recovered. In the murder case as well Hiran's wife suspected Vaze's involvement. T ATS questioned Vaze in connection with the case on Thursday.
The explosive laden SUV which was found in the proximity of Antilia was in Hiran's possession. From the car, 20 gelatin sticks along with a threat letter addressed to Ambani was recovered.
The case took a tragic turn when Hiran's body was recovered from Retibunder creek in Thane on March 5. On the basis of his wife Vimla's complaint, the ATS registered an offence of murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy against unknown accused. In her statement to the ATS, Vimla suspected Vaze's involvement.
Vaze who was previously heading the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai crime branch was recently shunted due to the allegation and uproar in the state assembly by opposition party which were demanding his removal.
Controvercies are not new to Vaze, Vaze was arrested in the alleged custodial death of 27-year-old Khwaja Younus in 2004 and was suspended for 16 years. He was reinstated in June 2020 with the state government stating it required all available officers on board during the COVID-19 pandemic.