Updated: March 15, 2021 7:58:13 am
A WHITE vehicle seen trailing the SUV that was found outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence with gelatin sticks and a threat note on February 25 was allegedly being used by Mumbai Police’s Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) led at the time by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, sources in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told The Indian Express.
The NIA took custody of the white Innova vehicle from the Motor Transport department of Mumbai Police in Nagpada late Saturday night, around the time the agency arrested Vaze in connection with the bomb scare case, the sources said. On Sunday, a special NIA court remanded Vaze in the agency’s custody for 12 days.
According to an NIA official, the white vehicle was found parked inside Mumbai Police’s headquarters. Police sources confirmed that the vehicle was being used by the CIU. A senior IPS officer told The Indian Express: “The vehicle was used by the CIU and parked in the Mumbai Police headquarters. After the NIA asked for the vehicle, it was handed over to them.”
Earlier, the CIU, which was investigating the case before the NIA took over, was said to have been on the lookout for the white vehicle. Asked how the police could not find the vehicle when it was parked in their headquarters, the IPS officer said he was “not aware about it”.
On the day of the bomb scare, the vehicle was parked for some time behind the SUV before it was driven away by an unidentified person.
Earlier in the day, the NIA, in their plea before the court seeking Vaze’s custody, said they were investigating the conspiracy involved in the case and wanted to investigate him in this connection.
The NIA stated in court that they had received inputs about Vaze’s involvement in placing the gelatin sticks in the SUV, and claimed that he had confessed. Vaze’s lawyers argued that he was picked up solely on the basis of suspicion and that there was no prima facie case established. They contended that the arrest was illegal and that Vaze was not informed of the grounds of arrest.
Vaze’s lawyers, including Sudeep Pasbola and Sajal Yadav, submitted that they should be allowed access to the remand report to know the grounds under which NIA took Vaze’s custody — the court will hear their plea Monday.
The NIA, through special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves, submitted that the probe is still at an initial stage. It told the court that since Vaze’s unit had investigated the case initially and knew the details, not being given his custody would hamper the probe. The NIA told the court that the alleged conspiracy could not have been planned and executed by one person and that they needed to find out who else was involved and the motive.
Meanwhile, Vaze’s younger brother Sudharma told The Indian Express: “We are very worried about him and completely support him. He never discussed his professional life with us so I am not aware who is targeting him and why. But we believe he is being falsely implicated. He did not mention anything about his personal life but he has expressed that he was feeling suicidal in his WhatsApp post.”
The NIA has also summoned two others from CIU, including another API and a constable, for questioning. While the agency is currently investigating the scare case, Maharashtra’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) is investigating the death of Mansukh Hiren, who had been using the SUV earlier and whose body was reccovered from a creek on March 5.
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