NIA records statement of ex-cop Pradeep Sharma in Vaze case

Former police inspector and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma on Thursday appeared before the National Investigating Agency (NIA) for the second consecutive day in connection with the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist's Mukesh Ambani residence and the death of Thane based businessman Mansukh Hiran. Sharma visited the NIA office at Peddar Road after the agency summoned him to record his statement, officials said.

Sharma reached the NIA office around 1 pm and was likely to be confronted with suspended police officer Sachin Vaze and two other persons - bookie Naresh Gor and convicted police constable Vinayak Shinde, who were earlier arrested by the NIA in connection with its probe into Hiran's murder case, sources said.

On Wednesday, Sharma was questioned by the NIA for over seven hours.

Sharma used to be a trusted officer of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh when the latter headed the Thane police.

Before taking voluntary retirement, Sharma had headed the anti-extortion cell of the Thane crime branch.

He unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Assembly election from Nalasopara in Palghar district of Maharashtra.

Meanwhile, in another development, the NIA officials on Thursday afternoon took Vaze to the JJ Hospital for a medical check-up. The doctors examined him and then sent him back to NIA's custody. "Vaze's health report has been given to authorities concerned," a hospital source said. This was second time that Vaze was taken for the medical-check up to the J J Hospital since his arrest on March 13.

Vaze in a letter on Wednesday had claimed former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had demanded Rs 2 crore from him to continue his service in the Mumbai police and another minister Anil Parab asked him to collect money from some contractors in Mumbai.

Parab, a Shiv Sena leader, has rubbished Vaze's claim.

Deshmukh, a senior NCP leader, resigned as home minister on Monday after the Bombay High Court ordered a CBI probe into corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The special NIA court on Wednesday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to question Vaze in connection with its preliminary enquiry (PE) into the allegations of corruption against Deshmukh.

On February 25, a gelatine sticks laden Scorpio was found parked near the Antilia residence of Industrialist Mukesh Ambani. The probe revealed that the said vehicle belonged to Thane based businessman Mansukh Hiran. Hiran had claimed that his Scorpio had been stolen from his possession a week before the SUV was found at Carmichael Road. Hiran was later found dead on March 5 in Thane.

The NIA on March 13 had arrested Vaze after his role surfaced in the Antilia bomb scare case.

Initial investigation into Hiran's death was done by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), till the MHA handed over the probe to the NIA on March 21.

The NIA has also taken over the custody from ATS of Naresh Gor and convicted police constable Vinayak Shinde for allegedly helping Vaze in Hiran's murder.

Free Press Journal