The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has claimed that convicted constable Vinayak Shinde, arrested for the alleged murder of Thane-resident Mansukh Hiran, had approached now suspended assistant police inspector Sachin Waze for work after coming out on parole. The ATS has alleged that Shinde helped Waze in “all his illegal activities”.
Shinde, a 51-year-old resident of Kalwa, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 for the alleged fake encounter of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, an alleged aide of gangster Chhota Rajan, in 2006. Shinde and 20 others, including 13 police personnel, were convicted by a sessions court.
Pradeep Sharma, a so-called “encounter specialist”, was acquitted in the case. A star witness in the case, Anil Bheda, who had identified Shinde as one of the persons to have abducted Gupta from Navi Mumbai, was also killed in 2011, three days before he could depose in court.
Shinde was granted parole in May. Officials from the ATS revealed that Shinde had been considered for parole for his good conduct, such as returning back to jail from parole in time. “Shinde’s record in jail must have been clean for which he was given parole during the pandemic,” said an officer.
Suspended from the force, Shinde, whose father was also a policeman, began looking for avenues to earn after his release, an officer said.
“While he was looking for a job, the announcement to reinstate API Sachin Waze was made on June 5. Waze was initially sent to the Special Branch. He was subsequently made in-charge of the Criminal Investigation unit after which Shinde went and met Waze, asking for work,” said one of the investigators from the ATS.
Waze had then saved his number and said he would contact him if he finds suitable work for him, the officer added. “Shinde soon got a call from Waze and started working on his instructions,” said an officer, adding that Shinde would often loiter around the CIU office at the Mumbai police headquarters near Crawford Market.
The ATS suspects that Shinde had played a role in hiding the Scorpio car, which was used by Hiran. On February 18, Hiran filed a complaint at the Vikhroli police station, claiming that the vehicle had been stolen. On February 25, it was placed outside the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani in South Mumbai with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat letter.
“We suspect that Shinde had taken the vehicle to some other location initially but as they feared that the vehicle that has been reported stolen may get exposed, they parked it in Saket Co-operative Housing Society where Waze stayed,” said an officer. During the probe, the ATS found that the DVR of the CCTV cameras installed at the society was taken off by Waze’s team on February 27 in a bid to allegedly destroy the evidence.
On Monday, investigators took Shinde to Waze’s residential complex in Thane and to his house in Kalwa. The ATS had also taken him to the creek in Kalwa, where Hiran’s body was found, to reconstruct the crime scene.
During his previous criminal case, the special investigation team had claimed that Shinde, who was on a deputation at the DN Nagar police station in 2006, was a close associate of Sharma and had played a role in the abduction of Gupta and witness Bheda.
The SIT had claimed that Shinde was part of a squad formed by Sharma but the court did not find evidence of Sharma being in touch with the co-accused during the conspiracy. While Shinde was not named in the initial FIR, he was arrested in January 2010. The court had relied on call data records, a service book showing his presence in Navi Mumbai among other evidence.
The ATS has alleged that Shinde and Waze knew each other since early 2000s when they were posted together in a crime branch unit. Waze was suspended from the force in 2004 after his name cropped up in the custodial death case of 27-year old software engineer Khwaja Yunus.
Shinde and Naresh Gaur, an alleged bookie, were arrested on Sunday by the ATS and sent to its custody by a court in Thane till March 30.
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