The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said that Sachin Vaze, a senior police officer of the Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch, will be removed from his position till the investigation into the mysterious death of automobile parts dealer Mansukh Hiren was completed, PTI reported. Earlier, Vaze was the investigating officer in the Antilia security scare case before Assistant Commissioner of Police Nitin Alakhnure replaced him.

Hiren was the reported owner of an SUV that was found with explosives outside Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai on February 25. Hiren was found dead near Mumbai on March 5.

“Sachin Vaze will be removed from the Crime Branch and posted in some other department,” Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said in the state’s Legislative Council on Wednesday, according to ANI. “It is being done so that an impartial investigation can be conducted in Mansukh Hiren death case.”

The Maharashtra Upper House witnessed a ruckus on Wednesday, as the Opposition demanded action against Vaze. BJP MLCs Gopichand Padalkar and Praveen Darekar questioned Deshmukh’s stand on Vaze and the reason that the police officer was being “protected”, PTI reported. The home minister made the announcement after a brief adjournment of the House.

However, Darekar and other Opposition members expressed dissatisfaction about the state government’s decision. “Vaze is in some way involved in the death of Mansukh Hiren. He should face legal action and should be suspended at once,” Darekar said, according to PTI.

Earlier on Tuesday, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis had demanded the arrest of Vaze, suggesting he could destroy evidence related to the case. He also claimed that the police officer was being saved because of his association with a “certain political party”.

Fadnavis also read out parts of the statement by Hiren’s wife, Vimla Hiren. In a statement to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, she alleged that her husband was murdered and that Vaze was involved. 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.

The case so far

Twenty gelatin sticks were recovered from a 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.