A witness in the Antilia-Mansukh Hiran murder case chargesheet, has said in his statement to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that on February 24 this year, Vaze had taken along with him the staff of the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) that he was then heading, to the then state home minister Anil Deshmukh’s official residence ‘Dnyaneshwari’ in Malabar Hill. He then went in alone while the staff waited in the visitors’ room.
The following day, on February 25, a gelatin sticks-laden Scorpio car was found parked outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence at Carmichael Road. The witness stated that at 7pm on February 24, Vaze had asked staff of the CIU to accompany him, but did not tell them where they were going. Vaze and his personal driver went ahead in his personal Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and the staff followed them in an Innova. The witness said they reached ‘Dnyaneshwari’ around 7.30pm, which is when they learnt that it was the official bungalow of the then home minister. “API Vaze went inside alone and we waited in the visitors’ room,” the witness said. The witness added that Vaze returned around 8.20pm from the bungalow and asked them all to proceed to the CIU office, where he reached in his Prado.
The witness then stated that after coming to the CIU office, Vaze directed him and another person to change the Innova’s number plates.
On February 17, this witness stated that he had been asked by Vaze to purchase face shields and gloves. On February 25, the witness stated, Vaze asked him to change the number plates of the Scorpio after putting on the purchased gloves. The number plates of the Innova were also changed by him on Vaze’s instructions.
The witness has stated that Vaze asked him to wear a face shield and Vaze also wore one. He drove the Scorpio as instructed by Vaze and followed him as he was driving the Innova. Thereafter, they exchanged vehicles, again on Vaze's instructions. At 2.10pm, he says, Vaze stopped the Scorpio he was driving and parked it at Carmichael Road. After a few minutes, he got down and came into the Innova the witness had parked some distance behind. He said that Vaze had a mask over his face, a white cloth over his head as well as a face shield. He says when he asked Vaze what the operation was about, the latter did not answer and asked him to remove his face shield and gloves, which he took with him.
The witness also stated that on March 3, 2021, he had seen a person matching Mansukh Hiran’s description in the visitors’ room of Vaze’s cabin. Hiran’s body was found in a Thane creek two days later, on March 5.
Another witness has stated that on March 2, dismissed former Police Inspector Sunil Mane, an accused in the case, had asked him whether any iron or wooden rod was kept in the crime unit store room. When the witness asked him what he required it for, he said it was for the encounter of a gangster. The NIA has accused Mane of a role in disposing the body of Hiran. As per the plan, his body was to be tied with a heavy object so that it would not surface.
Another witness who is acquainted with accused Manish Soni, has stated that a tense Soni had confided in him that he had been asked by Shelar (accused Santosh Shelar) to drive along with his two associates to Virar. Another person had entered the car and Soni told him he had heard a violent sound and one of the men gagging another. Later, the body of the person was thrown down a bridge.
The chargesheet said that Vaze tried to project Hiran’s murder as a suicide through his media contacts. Through extortion, he would collect huge sums of money, part of which was used for the crime. The threat note placed in the gelatin sticks-laden vehicle parked outside the Ambani residence was to terrorise wealthy individuals and to extort them by threatening them with dire consequences. “The post on Telegram Channel Jaish Ul Hind was to add credibility to the act of terror and murder of Hiran was a direct outcome of it. Vaze intended to re-establish himself as a super cop,” it said, by staging a fake encounter to regain his lost glory. It said the threat letter posted to Ambani family in Telegram showed his motive for huge monetary gains from the entire conspiracy.
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