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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mukesh Ambani bomb scare: Hemant Nagrale replaces Param Bir as Mumbai police commissioner

The development comes after Param Bir Singh met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday night against the backdrop of the arrest of city police officer Sachin Vaze by the NIA over its probe into the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare case.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 17, 2021 7:47:02 pm
Commissioner of Mumbai newsMumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale (Express photo: Pradip Das)

Amid a row over the alleged involvement of senior inspector Sachin Vaze in the Ambani bomb scare case, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday appointed Hemant Nagrale as the new Mumbai police commissioner, shunting Param Bir Singh, who has now been made the Director General of Home Guards.

In another major reshuffle, Rajnish Seth has been appointed Maharashtra DGP while Sanjay Pandey will head the Maharashtra State Security Corporation.

The development comes after Param Bir Singh met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday night against the backdrop of the arrest of city police officer Sachin Vaze by the NIA over its probe into the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house.

Vaze, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on March 13, was attached to the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of city police’s crime branch till recently.

The NIA has so far recorded the statements of seven officials of the crime branch, including an assistant commissioner of police, in connection with the case related to the recovery of the vehicle with explosives near Ambani’s house in Mumbai last month.

State Textile Minister Aslam Shaikh had earlier in the day said action will be taken against the one who has committed a mistake and that the Maharashtra government will not back anybody in such a case.

Sachin Vaze is suspected to have driven the white vehicle that escorted the SUV with explosives near the residence of Mukesh Ambani on February 2, according to the remand report of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that was submitted in court Sunday to obtain custody of the Assistant Police Inspector for 12 days in the bomb scare case.

The NIA probe has also identified Vaze as the person seen on CCTV footage wearing a large kurta and covering his face, a few hours after the Scorpio SUV was parked outside the Ambani residence that day, sources have said.

Vaze (49), is also facing heat in the murder case of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the Scorpio. Hiran was found dead in a creek in Thane district on March 5.

Before his body was recovered from the creek, Hiran had filed a complaint at the Vikhroli police station claiming that the Scorpio had been stolen on February 17. His wife Vimla Hiren had also alleged in her statement before ATS that assistant police inspector Vaze had been using the Scorpio car, parked outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence with explosives, from November 2020 till February 5.

In its remand report, the NIA has claimed a link between Hiran’s Vikhroli complaint, his death and the bomb scare case. While the first two cases are being investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, the NIA has taken over the third case.

In its remand plea, the NIA also said the identities of Vaze’s co-conspirators need to be established through sustained questioning. It also said that Waze is a police officer with “large amounts of wherewithal and influence at his disposition”, and his custody is required to ensure a free and fair probe. Sachin Vaze is credited with eliminating 63 alleged criminals in ‘encounters’.

A Mumbai court had on Sunday remanded Vaze in the NIA’s custody till March 25.

Around 20 gelatin sticks were found in a vehicle parked outside Antilia, the south Mumbai home of Mukesh Ambani leading to a security scare and a massive mobilisation by the Mumbai Police to trace the culprits.

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