The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday received orders from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to investigate the alleged murder of Mansukh Hiran, which was until now being probed by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
The NIA is already probing the case wherein gelatin sticks laden SUV was found near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and had arrested assistant inspector Sachin Vaze in connection with the case.
"We have received orders from the MHA to investigate Mansukh Hiran's murder case. The process to take over the case is going on," confirmed a senior NIA official from Delhi to FPJ on Saturday.
A Mahindra Scorpio SUV carrying gelatin sticks was found at Carmichael Road, near Antilia building, on February 25 and a threat letter was also recovered from the SUV. Vaze, who was posted then with the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai Crime Branch, was the first investigation officer in the case.
The initial probe revealed that the vehicle was in the possession of Thane-based auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiran. Hiran had reported about its theft a few days before it was found near Ambani's residence and had also lodged a police complaint in this regard.
Later, Hiran's body was found in a creek at Mumbra near Thane on March 5. Hiran's wife had later alleged that Vaze had borrowed the same vehicle for four months till he returned it on February 5 and also accused Vaze of having a role in her husband's death.
The NIA had later taken over the case of the SUV laden with gelatin sticks parked near Antilia building and had arrested Vaze on March 13 in the case. The NIA team has so far made enquiries with at least seven Mumbai police officials, of which five were working with Vaze in the CIU. The NIA has also seized five vehicles so far during their probe.
The NIA sleuths also made enquiries with assistant police inspector Riyazuddin Kazi, who had taken custody of DVR machines from Vaze's housing society last month. The NIA has also got CCTV footage which shows that Vaze and Hiran had met near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus on February 17, the day a Scorpio in Hiran's possession was 'stolen'. The same Scorpio was found with gelatin sticks inside near Ambani's house on February 25.
Meanwhile, the ATS said that they had not received any orders from the Maharashtra government to hand over the probe to NIA.
The ATS on Saturday sought custody of Vaze before NIA court in Hiran's death matter. The court will decide on March 25th on the application made by the ATS, as Vaze is under the custody of NIA and would first see if NIA requires further custody of Vaze in the Antilia bomb threat case.
The NIA late on Friday night took suspended officer Vaze to the spot at Carmichael Road where the explosive-laden SUV was found last month and recreated the crime scene as part of its probe into the case. Vaze was asked to walk there for some time wearing a white kurta. The NIA suspects that the person wearing a kurta, who was captured on the CCTV footage at the Carmichael Road on the day of the incident, was Vaze.