NIA Says No Terror Angle In Ambani Bomb Threat Case; Sachin Vaze Orchestrated Whole Thing ‘To Restore Reputation’: Report
In an interesting turn in the investigation of Ambani bomb threat case which is raising many eye brows, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has concluded that the whole affair was orchestrated by Vaze himself merely “to recover his lost glory”.
Senior officials in NIA told HT on Tuesday that planting an explosive laden SUV was a part of a conspiracy by Sachin Vaze “to restore his reputation as a successful cop”.
“He wanted to prove to Mumbai Police brass that he is still as good by solving a bomb conspiracy so he planned this whole episode to plant explosives outside Antilia. He wanted the limelight again,” said the first officer.
“He had in fact got what he wanted. In CIU, he was made the investigating officer of the Scorpio case and during the four days he handled the probe, Vaze tried to cover the loose ends he left on 25 February, including destruction of some CCTV footage,” a third officer said, asking not to be named.
“He probably never thought that investigation would reach the NIA and that his plan to regain his lost glory would tank,” he added.
They further said that it was Vaze himself who drove the explosive-laden SUV to the spot on 25 February, and then left in the Innova car.
“Vaze himself was driving the Scorpio car on 25 February, while an Innova that belongs to Mumbai police tailed it. After parking the Scorpio on Carmichael Road, Vaze sat in the Innova and left,” a senior NIA official was quoted a saying.
The conclusions are raising eyebrows and social media users allege a cover-up to protect the real masterminds of the conspiracy, especially because the full details of the investigation aren’t out. Reportedly, the officials did not give details of how they arrived at these conclusions were made, and if Vaze had admitted during interrogation to the details and motive behind the crime.
“Certain crucial pieces of evidence was recovered Mumbai during hours-long raids. These helped NIA piece together the sequence of events and the purported conspiracy,” the report quoted another NIA official.
Yesterday, NIA had seized a black Mercedes Benz that Sachin Vaze used to drive, and found more than Rs 5 lakhs in cash, a note counting machine and some clothes from the car. The original registration number plate of the Scorpio that was found parked near Ambani residence carrying gelatin sticks was also recovered.
NIA also recovered couple of containers with kerosene and diesel that the agency believes was used to burn the oversized clothes worn by the Scorpio driver, as seen in the CCTV footage recovered from near Carmichael Road, the first official said.
NIA has also ruled out the terror angle. On 11 March, Delhi police had recovered the SIM card and cell phone used to threaten Ambani from Tehseen Akhtar’s barracks in Tihar jail. The SIM and cell phone were used to create the Jaish-ul-Hind Telegram account which claimed the responsibility for the explosive-laden SUV and demanded cryptocurrency.
Akhtar, former chief of Indian Mujahideen, was questioned for over seven hours on Saturday (13 March).
It is not clear how Akhtar’s role fits into the NIA’s conclusion that Vaze orchestrated the whole thing to recover his lost glory.
Vaze’s name first shot into the limelight in the case after explosive-laden car’s legal owner Mansukh Hiren was found dead on 5 March after being “missing” for five hours. Hiren’s wife alleged that Vaze had killed her husband.
API Vaze’s has long been a notorious name. He was a well-known “encounter specialist” of Mumbai Police. He was forced to quit the force in 2007 after being suspended along with 14 other policemen over the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus, a suspect in the 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast case.
He was reportedly forced to resign after requests for his reinstatement were rejected by the Congress government in Maharashtra.
However, in June 2020, his suspension was revoked and he was reinstated due to a shortage of police staff at the height of the Covid-19 crisis in Mumbai. Opposition leaders have alleged that Vaze is close to the Shiv Sena leaders, and being protected by the Maharashtra government.
Devendra Fadnavis, who had held the Home portfolio for five years, said that when he was the Chief Minister – the Shiv Sena, its former alliance partner – recommended that Vaze be reinstated.
“I took the advice of the Advocate General and did not take it forward…he was suspended and a case was pending in the Bombay High Court. He is an officer of the rank of an Assistant Police Inspector….the Crime Intelligence Unit is headed by a Police Inspector…the incumbent Police Inspector was removed and the API was given the full charge of the all-important unit,” he said.
Fadnavis had also said in the assembly that the last known location of Mansukh Hiren's phone was near Shiv Sena leader Dhananjay Gawde's office. Both Gawde and Vaze are purportedly close as both were named in an extortion case in 2017.
Fadnavis said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh were protecting Vaze like they were his lawyers. This was after Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said after Vaze’s arrest that he believed that Vaze was a “very honest and capable” officer.
Other BJP leaders have alleged that Vaze was in contact with different Shiv Sena leaders.
BJP leader Nitesh Rane has claimed that Vaze had demanded money from the bookies who start the betting before the IPL season, and was in touch with Varun Sardesai - a secretary in the Yuva Sena, a cousin of Sena leader and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. He is reportedly seen as a key figure in the Sena now after a quick rise in the ranks.
Another BJP leader Kirit Somaiya has alleged that Sachin Vaze, arrested by NIA in Mansukh Hiren death case, has six businesses and two Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Mashelkar, Vijay Gawai, as business partners.
Leader of Opposition Fadnavis yesterday said that Sachin Vaze's case won't be over until Mansukh Hiren's killer is revealed.
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