A DAY after the Opposition in Maharashtra demanded action against Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze in connection with the death of Mansukh Hiren, whose vehicle was at the centre of the terror scare outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house, the state government said it has decided to transfer the officer from the Crime Branch unit.
The announcement was made by Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the Legislative Council during a discussion on law and order issues raised by the Opposition. On Sunday, Hiren’s wife Vimla had submitted a statement to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), claiming that her husband was murdered and that she suspected the role of Vaze in the death.
However, speaking to reporters after the Budget session, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray came out in Vaze’s defence and said the Opposition was seeking to equate him with “Osama Bin Laden” and that “a person should not be hanged first and an inquiry conducted against him later”.
Thackeray also hit out at the BJP for linking Vaze to the Shiv Sena. Referring to the suicide of Mohan Delkar, MP of Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Thackeray said that while Vaze was no longer a Sena member, Praful Patel, who was named by the MP in his suicide note, had been a minister in the Gujarat government.
Vaze, meanwhile, met the Mumbai Police Commissioner and JCP (crime). Speaking to reporters, he said: “Following allegations being raised in the House, I met my senior officers. I will be issuing a statement tomorrow.” The Indian Express has learnt that Vaze, who was the investigating officer in the terror scare case before being replaced, has told senior officers that he had not used the vehicle in question during the months leading to the incident as alleged by Hiren’s wife.
Speaking in the House earlier, Deshmukh said: “We have taken a decision to transfer Vaze from the crime branch and he will be posted elsewhere. Action will be taken against Vaze as per the norms. The case will be probed impartially and action will be taken against those who are guilty.”
The case pertaining to the explosives found in the vehicle near Ambani’s residence on February 25 is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) while the state’s ATS is probing the death of Hiren and the statement given by his wife.
“I request all members of the House that if they have any evidence, documents, CD, videos, CDR, they should hand over it to ATS, which will investigate it properly. The ATS will not shield anyone in the case and action will be taken against those guilty,” Deshmukh said. A senior official in the Mumbai police said later that they had not yet received the transfer order yet.
Earlier, soon after question hour Wednesday, Opposition Leader in Legislative Assembly Devendra Fandavis had sought to know the action taken against Vaze.
“We had raised questions on Vaze. The government had said that it was investigating…A decision should be taken on his removal from the post. We want the government to make an announcement on his removal,” said Fadnavis. He said that merely transferring Vaze was not enough and the officer should be suspended.
However, speaking to reporters later, Thackeray asked if the Opposition leader was targeting Vaze because he had arrested “someone from his house”, in an apparent reference to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami who was picked up from his Mumbai home in December on charges of alleged abettment in the suicide of an interior designer.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government decided to transfer Vaze for the smooth functioning of the House on the last day of the Budget session.