The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the possible role of gangster Subhash Singh Thakur in sending the Telegram message that claimed responsibility, in the name of a purported terror group called Jaish-Ul-Hind, for causing a security scare outside the Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, The Indian Express has learnt.
Sources said the NIA received information from another agency that Thakur, who hails from UP and has a long criminal history in Mumbai, may have been instrumental in getting the message sent at the behest of Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze, who has since been suspended and is in the agency’s custody in connection with the bomb scare.
According to sources, the NIA believes that Waze approached Thakur, who was in a Varanasi jail and is now undergoing treatment in BHU Hospital, through an intermediary. They said that Thakur was told by the intermediary to get the message sent through servers in the UAE. Instead, they said, he got Tihar inmate and terror suspect Tehseen Akhtar of India Mujahideen to send the message.
The message was traced to Tihar by a private cyber agency after which the Delhi Police Special Cell, acting on information from Mumbai Police, seized the phone from which it had been allegedly sent.
The central agency believes that the message claiming responsibility was meant to make the incident look like the handiwork of a terrorist organisation, sources said.
An investigating officer from the NIA confirmed to The Indian Express that they will investigate Thakur’s role but refused to divulge further details. An officer from the Delhi Special Cell refused to comment on the issue.
Sources in the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, which was probing the case before it was taken over by NIA, confirmed that they had received information about Thakur’s alleged involvement but could not pursue it further as the case changed hands.
Apart from the numerous cases lodged against him, Thakur has been convicted in the JJ Hospital shootout case of 1992 when he was part of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. He was shifted to the hospital from Fatehgarh Central Jail in November 2019 after he complained of health problems. Last month, an FIR was lodged against him in Varanasi for allegedly threatening another man over the phone in connection with a case of fraud.
The Telegram message was sent on February 28, three days after a Scorpio vehicle with gelatin sticks was found outside the residence of Ambani. The NIA has said that the Scorpio was being driven by Waze while his driver was driving another vehicle that trailed the SUV.
The message, sent through a channel on the Telegram app, claimed responsibility for parking the vehicle outside the Ambani residence. It claimed that this was “only a trailer” and that “the big picture was yet to come”. The message stated that “the brother who placed the SUV near the Ambani house has reached the safe house” and included a demand for money.
Later in the day, another Telegram message, again claiming to be from Jaish-Ul-Hind, denied responsibility for the incident.
Based on the cyber agency’s inputs, the Delhi Police Special Cell seized cell phones from Tihar and questioned terror suspect Akhtar in connection with the first message. Akhtar had earlier been named a wanted accused in the 13/7 blasts that took place in Mumbai in 2011.
On Thursday, the NIA raided a club in Mumbai’s Girgaon on suspicion that its manager supplied SIM cards to cricket bookie Naresh Gaur. Gaur was one of the two arrested in the murder of Mansukh Hiran, who was using the SUV before it was found outside Ambani’s residence.
Gaur was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS for allegedly procuring multiple SIM cards and handing them over to dismissed constable Vinayak Shinde. According to the ATS, Shinde gave the SIM cards to Waze and allegedly used them to get in touch with Hiran before he was found dead on March 5.
Gaur and Shinde were later handed over to NIA.
Late Thursday, the NIA also questioned a woman known to Waze in connection with the case.
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