Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday demanded the arrest of Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze in relation to the Mukesh Ambani bomb threat case, reported India Today.

An explosives-filled car was on February 25 found near Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. The reported owner of the car, Mansukh Hiren, was found dead on March 5. Vaze was the investigating officer in the case before Assistant Commissioner of Police Nitin Alakhnure replaced him.

Fadnavis raised the matter in his address at the Maharashtra Assembly. “Sachin Vaze should be punished,” he said, according to NDTV. “You are giving him the chance to destroy the evidence. And just because he [Vaze] entered a certain political party, he is being saved. How was he even taken in the force? He needs to be first suspended.”

In the Assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader read out portions of Hiren’s wife Vimla Hiren’s statement to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, and demanded the arrest of Vaze. Fadnavis also alleged that Mansukh Hiren’s last known location was close to the residence of a person, identified as Dhananjay Gawde, who had been booked along with Vaze in an extortion case in 2017, reported The Indian Express.

“I believe my husband [Mansukh Hiren] was murdered and I suspect Sachin Vaze was involved in the murder,” Vimla Hiren’s statement said, according to The Indian Express. “And hence I request the matter should be investigated thoroughly.” She also claimed that Vaze had asked her husband to get arrested in the case, and promised to bail him out in a few days.

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After the car was found outside the Ambani residence on February 25, Mansukh Hiren had claimed it had been stolen on February 17 from Mumbai’s Vikhroli area. He had said that he had left the vehicle after the steering wheel had jammed, reported The Indian Express. However, in her statement, Vimla Hiren claimed that Vaze was using the explosives-laden car from November 2020 till February 5.

After the bomb threat, Vimla Hiren said that the police began to visit their house for interrogation. She claimed that Vaze was with Mansukh Hiren on February 26, 27 and 28. “On March 2, he told me that he had gone to Mumbai with Vaze and on the instructions of Vaze, they went to one advocate Giri to file a complaint letter alleging that the police and media were harassing him and sent it to Maharashtra CM, Home Minister and Commissioners of Mumbai and Thane,” Vimla Hiren said, reported The Indian Express.

Following this, on the night of March 4, Vimla Hiren said her husband left home to meet a police officer, identified as “inspector Tawde from Kandivali police station”. When he did not respond to calls, their son called Vaze. According to the report, the police officer then questioned the reason Mansukh Hiren had gone to meet a police agency without informing him, the wife claimed in her statement to the ATS.

The man’s family filed a missing persons complaint the next day, but his body was found in the next few hours. Vaze, who is now serving in the Crime Intelligence Unit, did not comment on Vimla Hiren and Fadnavis’ allegations, according to The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh criticised Fadnavis for not investigating interior designer Anvay Naik’s death during the BJP leader’s term as chief minister. “The statement by Hiren Mansukh’s wife is now everywhere in media,” Deshmukh said, according to NDTV. “So the ATS is investigating this case and if the opposition has more proof and evidence, then they should give it to the ATS. And as the Home Minster, I will tell you and assure that no one will be spared.”

What happened?

Twenty gelatin sticks were recovered from the black Scorpio found less than two kilometres from Ambani’s multi-storey home Antilia on February 25. The police had said that the gelatin recovered from the car was the commercial type that is used in mining and construction.

The police then located Mansukh Hiren, who was the SUV’s registered owner. He told the police that his car broke down on February 16, after which he parked it on the Mulund-Airoli Link Road. He alleged that the vehicle was stolen from there.

Hiren’s body was recovered from a creek near Mumbai last week. The police said that he died by suicide. The Opposition said that Mansukh Hiren’s death was suspicious and demanded that the case be transferred to the National Investigation Agency.

The Maharashtra ATS filed a murder case on Monday. However, the case was taken over by the National Investigation Agency. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that there was something “fishy” about the NIA taking over the investigation into the bomb threat. Deshmukh had also clarified on Monday that the state ATS will alone investigate the death of the reported owner of the explosives-laden car.