The NIA, probing the murder of Thane resident Mansukh Hiren, told the court on Wednesday that the conspirators planned to tie his body to a stone or heavy iron to ensure it does not resurface in Mumbra creek, where it was dumped after he was killed on March 4.
Within 12 hours of him having gone missing, Hiren’s body was found at a creek in Kalwa on March 5 with handkerchiefs stuffed in his mouth.
Hiren was a friend of suspended assistant Mumbai Police inspector Sachin Waze, who has been arrested by NIA in connection to the murder and the Ambani terror scare cases. Hiren was found dead at the creek days after the Scorpio he was using was found parked outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai on February 25 with gelatin sticks and a threat letter.
The agency claimed that the witness has said that he asked Mane why he needed it and if he was planning someone’s encounter, to which the officer is alleged to have said “yes”.
Mane, who was arrested on April 23, was produced before the special court on Wednesday. While the NIA sought his custody for another eight days, special judge Prashant R Sitre allowed it till May 1.
Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves told the court that not only had Mane called Hiren on March 4 posing as officer “Tawde”, but it was him who met Hiren and took his phone away before the murder. “It was this accused (Mane) who had taken Mansukh Hiren’s phone from him, switched it off and then handed him over to other passengers in the car, who eventually carried out the murder. The accused then went to Vasai, switched on Hiren’s phone to mislead investigators. He is a police officer, he knows that if Hiren’s location is shown in Thane, he will be trapped. He also took his car and parked it elsewhere,” he added.
Gonsalves also said that between April 23 and April 28, Mane’s house was searched and incriminating material and documents found. In an office belonging to Mane and his wife, who owns a firm providing security, registration numbers of four cars were found. “The entire case revolves around number plates of vehicles. The office search led to four RC books of vehicles,” Gonsalves added.
He claimed that before Hiren’s murder, Waze and Mane were in contact. “There were seven calls between them before the murder. While two were missed calls, it is suspected that the murder conspiracy was hatched in the other five.”
An NIA official said that based on the statements of Crime Branch (unit XI) officials, Mane had not returned to the unit on March 4 after he left in the evening. An officer said, “Mane drove the Volkswagen Polo and picked up Waze from near Kalwa railway station. Waze had gotten off to purchase handkerchiefs from a vendor outside Kalwa station. These handkerchiefs were then used to stuff Mansukh’s mouth so that water did not enter and the body remained at the bottom of the creek.”
On the day of the murder, Mane had left his office in Kandivali after switching off his phone and kept it in a bag, which he asked one of his juniors to send to his home — again to mislead investigators about his location, NIA said.
The NIA further told the court that Mane’s custody is needed to confront him with the call data records showing his location, including the times he and Waze were together. The agency added that it wants to establish who had ultimately killed Hiren.
Lawyer Aaditya Gore, representing Mane, said that any statement claimed to have been given by Mane to NIA is not admissible in court. He added that it was “implausible” that a police officer would switch his phone off while on duty.
The court, meanwhile, partly allowed an application by Waze seeking dental treatment. It, however, did not allow his plea seeking a chair and mattress in jail. Waze’s lawyer Rounak Naik sought the articles claiming that he suffered from back pain.
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