Mukesh Ambani bomb scare: Who is the cop Sachin Vaze?
Following his late-Saturday arrest, Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze was on Sunday sent to the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) custody till March 25 for his alleged role in placing an explosives-laden vehicle near billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani's residence Antilia. The cop has also been accused of murdering Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the explosives-laden vehicle. Here's all you need to know about him.
Who is Sachin Vaze?
Vaze—one of Mumbai's so-called "encounter specialists"—is an Assistant Police Inspector of the Mumbai Police He was reinstated last year after a 16-year hiatus (he was under suspension for part of it). It was said that Vaze was reinstated due to staff shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He was moved to the Mumbai Crime Branch and made in charge of the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU).
Why was Vaze suspended?
Vaze was one of the four policemen charged with murder and destruction of evidence in the 2003 custodial killing of 27-year-old engineer Khwaja Yunus. Yunus, who worked in Dubai, had been picked up in Mumbai in 2002 under the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA). The police had alleged that Yunus was involved in a bomb blast in Ghatkopar on December 2, 2002.
Trial in custodial death case still pending
On a High Court order, the Maharashtra CID investigated the engineer's disappearance and found it to be a case of custodial death. The trial is still underway as the judge was transferred in 2018. Vaze's reinstatement has been challenged in court by Yunus's family.
Is Vaze associated with Shiv Sena?
When his pleas for reinstatement went unheard, Vaze quit the force in 2007 and joined Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena is currently leading the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government in Maharashtra with Uddhav Thackeray as the Chief Minister. The party had come to power in late-2019. After his 2020 reinstatement, Vaze was assigned high-profile cases including the TRP case, and Badshah fake followers case.
How is Vaze involved in the Ambani threat case?
Vaze was virtually leading the investigation in the Ambani bomb threat case. Opposition leader and former state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis leveled a series of allegations against him that brought him into the limelight. Last week, in the state Assembly, Fadnavis said Vaze was the first person on the site near Antilia on Carmichael Road where the explosives-laden vehicle, a Mahindra Scorpio, was parked.
Vaze, Hiren were frequently in touch: Fadnavis
Fadnavis alleged that Vaze and Hiren were frequently in touch and that the former was in possession of the Scorpio. Hiren had reported the vehicle stolen the week before the Antilia incident. Curiously, the same day Fadnavis made these allegations, Hiren's body was fished out of the Kalwa creek. Hiren's wife has accused Vaze of murdering him. Fadnavis alleged Vaze was being protected.