April 4, 2021 1:36:26 am
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday told a special court that it has evidence to show that suspended Mumbai Police Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze, arrested in connection to the Mukesh Ambani house bomb scare case, had “suspiciously moved towards the scene of crime” on March 4 when Thane resident Mansukh Hiran had gone missing.
The NIA is investigating the death of Hiran, who had gone missing days after a Scorpio vehicle he was using was found parked outside the Ambani residence in south Mumbai with gelatin sticks and a threat letter on February 25. His body was recovered from a creek in Kalwa on March 5.
The agency did not specify the spot in its remand application presented before the court, which extended Waze’s NIA custody till April 7.
“We have analysed the IPDR (Internet Protocol Data Record), which shows the accused (Waze) suspiciously moved towards the scene of offence on March 4,” Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for NIA, said.
The NIA has taken over Hiran’s murder probe from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad. Alleging Waze’s involvement in the case, the central agency has claimed that he was part of a meeting where a conspiracy was hatched to kill Hiran.
The NIA on Saturday sought six more days of Waze’s custody, claiming that it is probing leads in the case.
Singh told the court that an account in a private bank at Versova in Andheri, co-owned by Waze and an accomplice who is also a suspect in the case, were cleared five days after his arrest on March 13. The account had Rs 26.5 lakh till March 8. On March 18, it was emptied along with the locker, with only a few documents left behind, he added. Singh claimed that NIA is investigating whether any incriminating documents or articles were removed from the locker.
Waze’s lawyer Aabad Ponda denied that any such account was held by him and sought for the NIA to submit proof of a bank account opening form, which would show his signature and photograph. Following this, the NIA submitted a letter containing information about the bank account for the special judge’s perusal but said that it could not be shown to the accused at this stage of investigation.
Ponda, meanwhile, alleged that NIA had planted evidence – including laptops, CPUs, DVRs that store CCTV footage and number plates of vehicles – recovered from Mithi river last month. Ponda said the river was accessible to all and the recoveries made have been “foisted” on Waze.
He said on behalf of Waze: “The river is 17.5 km in length, with its catchment area spread across 7,295 hectare. There is no question of finding these objects in a river. They are foisted on me to show a recovery. I have not made disclosure as is being claimed by the NIA.”
The NIA also claimed that it had found a passport belonging to an unknown person during the search of Waze’s residence. It added that so far, 50 statements of witnesses have been recorded. It has also found a diary on April 1, which mentioned that the owner of a club in south Mumbai had paid “huge amounts” of money to Waze.
Ponda argued that the NIA had not submitted a whisper on terror charges, which had led to the invocation of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against Waze. He added that Waze was part of the Mumbai Police force and should not be painted in a negative matter based on the allegations. The allegations at best were about disproportionate assets and had nothing to do with UAPA, said Ponda.
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