“Apna police vala bhi hai (our cop is there too),” were Mansukh Hiran’s last words to his wife as he stepped out on the evening of March 4 to head to Ghodbunder, telling her that he was off to meet a person named Tawde, hours before his death.
Officials investigating the case claim that was the indication that he was going to meet now arrested and suspended assistant inspector of police Sachin Waze. The investigators are saying that Waze had instructed Hiran not to tell anyone he was going to meet him. Hiran’s family members were by then angry with Waze for asking Hiran to surrender in the Antilia security scare case, with the promise that he would bail him out later.
According to police officials, on March 4 around 8 pm, Hiran, who was in his car decor shop in Thane, got a call on WhatsApp. He told his family members that he was going to meet a police officer, identified as “Tawde”.
“We believe that Waze told Hiran to tell his family members that he was going to meet Tawde for questioning related to the Ambani bomb scare case,” said an officer from the agency. But Hiran is believed to have told his wife that Waze, with whom he was friendly, would also be present.
In her statement to the ATS on March 6, Vimla had categorically named Waze as a suspect in the FIR because of what Hiran had told her, said an official.
An ATS official added that Waze called every official on the Antilia and the related car theft case not to call Hiran for questioning as he was investigating the case. He would often tell his family members that “Waze sir will handle everything”, said a close relative.
Hiran’s elder brother Vinod said, “My brother trusted him way too much and that has cost him his life.”
ATS officials, who continue to assist the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in their probe into the murder, claimed that it was Waze, who had called Hiran to Ghodbunder Road in Thane by using SIM cards illegally procured from Gujarat.
On March 4 evening, Waze was seen in CCTV footage leaving the Commissionerate office in south Mumbai and walking towards the GPO. But the location of his mobile phone did not change. Investigators believe he may have left his phone in his office to create an alibi on the evening of the murder.
An official revealed that they are looking for an Audi car in which he is suspected to have travelled from south Mumbai to Ghodbunder. The ATS believes that Hiran was killed in that car.
“We believe that Waze was present when Hiran was killed in the car after which he left for Dongri, where he claimed that he conducted a ‘nil’ raid, which means no one is arrested and nothing is seized. At the same time his accomplices were trying to dispose off Hiran’s body,” said one of the investigators.
The ATS has handed over the custody of Vinayak Shinde, a former police constable, who they arrested on Sunday along with Naresh Gaur, a cricket bookie, to the NIA following court order. Shinde maintained that his only role was to obtain the SIM cards from Gaur and hand them over to Waze.