ON FEBRUARY 27, a day after Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze was named Investigating Officer in the Antilia bomb scare case, his team at the Mumbai Police’s Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) visited the housing society where he stays and allegedly took possession of all CCTV footage, The Indian Express has learnt.
In a separate move, Waze and his team took CCTV footage and a register from a shop in Thane where fake number plates found on two vehicles involved in the incident were allegedly made. None of these “seizures” was recorded by the CIU in case papers as part of evidence, a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which took over the bomb scare case and arrested Waze on Saturday night, suspects that the CIU team allegedly wanted to destroy evidence.
In this regard, sources said, the NIA has questioned five CIU policemen, including two APIs other than Waze. It is recording the statements of CIU officers, including Waze and API Riyazuddin Kazi, to find the “seized evidence”.
Two days after the scare outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25, the CIU team visited Saket Cooperative Housing Society in Thane West near the Mumbai-Agra highway, where Waze stays, and asked the office-bearers to hand over the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) containing all CCTV footage.
Two DVRs were handed over the same day, said an office-bearer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Monday, The Indian Express reported the finding of the NIA probe team that the CIU was using a white Innova that had been spotted trailing the Scorpio SUV found outside Ambani’s house with gelatin sticks and a threat note.
Officers from Mumbai Police and Maharashtra’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), who were investigating the case before it was taken over by NIA, had pinned the last location of the Innova to Majiwadi junction in Thane, about 3 km from the housing society where Waze stays.
The ATS is also investigating the theft of the Scorpio, a week before it was found parked outside the Ambani residence. A Mumbai police source said CCTV footage from Waze’s society was important for this case, too. “The Scorpio was stolen on February 17, and the ATS was investigating a lead that the vehicle was parked in the housing society for days after that,” said an ATS officer, on condition of anonymity.
Last week, the wife of an auto interiors dealer who was using the SUV had claimed that the Scorpio was in Waze’s possession from November last year till February 5. The dealer, Mansukh Hiran, was found dead on March 5.
The CIU team that visited the housing society included API Kazi, who has since been questioned by the NIA in the bomb scare case.
When contacted about the seized CCTV footage, Mumbai Police spokesperson Chaitanya S said: “I have no knowledge regarding this.” However, The Indian Express reviewed the contents of a letter signed by API Kazi and handed over to the housing society on February 27.
“Whereas for the purpose of investigation this office needs to check the CCTV installed in premises of your society and the adjoining area. Whereas CCTV footage of your premises of your society and the adjoining roads and areas are stored in the DVR. Whereas these DVR are needed to be taken in charge for the thorough investigation,” it states.
An office-bearer of the society said the four-member police team “initially made an oral request and were reluctant to put in a formal written request”. “It was only after the society said that it would not hand over the footage without a written demand did they write a letter,” said the office-bearer, who did not wish to be named.
Five days later, on March 4, the society’s secretary Shashi Nayar wrote a letter to the Senior Police Inspector of the Rabodi Police Station informing him that they had handed over the DVRs to a API-rank officer from the CIU. Nayar could not be reached for comment.
Earlier, on February 25 and 26, a CIU team had visited the shop in Thane where the number plates were made. They seized the DVR and register from the shop after saying that it was part of the investigation, the owner said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, shop-owner Navin Talreja said, “On February 25, Sachin Waze and four other policemen came to my shop and told me that they were investigating the Ambani case and that the car registration number may have been made at my shop. The next day, four of the officers came and took the DVR of the CCTV footage and the register where I had maintained records.”
An NIA officer said the DVR and register was “vital” as they could reveal the identity of those for whom the number plates were made.
On Sunday, the ATS, which is probing Hiran’s death too, wrote a letter to the Thane housing society secretary seeking CCTV footage. But the society’s office-bearers confirmed that they had handed over the DVRs to the CIU.
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