Ambani bomb scare: Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze sent to NIA custody till March 25
The police officer alleged that he was being falsely implicated by his colleagues in the force.
A court in Mumbai on Sunday sent Crime Branch officer Sachin Vaze to National Investigation Agency custody till March 25 in connection with the inquiry into the explosive-laden car found outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence, Antilia, last month, ANI reported.
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 NIA had arrested Vaze on Saturday night after 12 hours of questioning about his alleged links with Mansukh Hiren, the reported owner of the SUV that was found outside Ambani’s house. Hiren was found dead near Mumbai on March 5.
Late on Saturday night, a spokesperson of the NIA issued a brief statement, announcing that Vaze was arrested at 11.50 pm for “for his role and involvement in placing explosives-laden vehicle near Carmichael road” on February 25.
Vaze was held under Indian Penal Code Sections 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (punishment for forgery), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc, with intent to commit forgery punishable or otherwise), 506(2) (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), ANI quoted NIA as saying. He was also charged under 4(a)(b)(I)Explosive Substances Act 1908.
Vaze’s arrest came hours after a Thane district and sessions court rejected a plea filed by him seeking protection from arrest. The court, while refusing interim bail to the police officer, observed that he had spent time with Hiren on February 27 and February 28.
The central agency also called in two Assistant Commissioners of Police Nitin Alaknure and Sripath Kale for interrogation, according to The Indian Express. Alaknure, with the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, was the investigating officer in the bomb scare case before it was taken over by NIA. Kale, with the Anti-Terrorism Squad, is the investigating officer in Hiren’s alleged murder case.
Hiren’s wife, in her statement to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad that is also investigating the case, claimed that her husband had given the SUV to Waze in November, which the officer returned in the first week of February. Vimla Hiran alleged that her husband was murdered, and that Vaze was involved in the crime. She also claimed that the police officer had asked her husband to get arrested in the case on the promise of getting him bail in a few days.
Vaze, who was the Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s assistant police inspector, had been the lead investigator in the case before it was transferred to the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Mumbai Police, and later to the NIA. After allegations of his association with Hiren surfaced, he was transferred on March 10, from the Crime Branch and posted to a different department.
Falsely implicated, claims Vaze
The police officer has denied all allegations against him from the beginning. On Saturday, shortly before walking into the NIA office at 11 am, Vaze posted a message on social media alleging that his colleagues in the force were falsely implicating him, The Indian Express reported.
In the message, which was uploaded as his WhatsApp status, Vaze wrote about how this was not the first time that he was being framed. “3rd March 2004. Fellow officers from the CID arrested me in a false case,” he said. “That arrest inconclusive till date. Sensing the history is going to repeat.”
He alleged that once again, his fellow officers were “on to falsely trap” him. “There’s a slight difference in the scenario,” Vaze added. Then probably I had 17 years of hope, patience, life and service too. Now I will have neither 17 years of further life nor service nor patience to live.”
He signed off saying the “time to say goodbye to the world is coming closer”.