Ambani bomb scare: Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze arrested by NIA
The National Investigation Agency has arrested Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden vehicle near billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani's residence. The probing agency will present Vaze before a holiday court on Sunday seeking his custody. The cop has also been accused of murdering Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the vehicle found with explosives near Ambani's residence last month.
Vaze was taken into custody by the NIA late Saturday after he allegedly confessed to his role in the Ambani bomb scare case. He was questioned for nearly 12 hours by an NIA team led by Inspector-General (IG) Anil Shukla. The NIA will present him before a holiday court to seek custody. The case will be heard at NIA sessions court in Mumbai's Kalaghoda.
Separately, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is probing Vaze for his alleged involvement in the death of Hiren, and the theft of the vehicle, a Mahindra Scorpio, involved in the crime. The theft was reported on February 17.
Notably, Vaze had filed an anticipatory bail plea at the Thane district sessions court on Friday seeking protection from arrest. In his plea, the cop had described the allegations against him as "baseless" and a "witch-hunt." The plea was rejected as the court observed that his custodial interrogation was necessary. The next hearing for the bail plea is scheduled for March 19.
On February 25, the police found an abandoned Mahindra Scorpio parked near Ambani's 27-story home, Antilia, with 20 gelatin sticks. An attached letter threatening the Ambanis was recovered. On March 5, Hiren's body was fished out of the Kalwa creek in Mumbra. Two days later, the ATS registered a case of murder, criminal conspiracy, and destruction of evidence against an unknown person.
Earlier this week, Vaze was transferred out of the Mumbai Crime Branch to the Citizen Facilitation Center (CFC) at the police headquarters. The Opposition, led by the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, has pointed to links between Vaze and the Shiv Sena, which leads the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government in Maharashtra. The Opposition alleged that Vaze was being protected.
A message posted on a Telegram channel of purported terror outfit Jaish-ul-Hind had claimed responsibility for the bomb threat. Another message by a group claiming to be Jaish-ul-Hind had denied the outfit's role in the case. Further, reports said the same Mahindra Scorpio vehicle was used to escort Alibaug Police when they arrested Republic TV's Arnab Goswami.