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Antilia bomb scare case: NIA invokes UAPA, names 10

The chargesheet includes section 20 of the UAPA, which pertains to membership of a terrorist gang or organisation. The other UAPA sections include section 16 (terrorist act) and section 18 (conspiracy).

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: September 5, 2021 1:45:41 pm
The SUV with explosives was found on February 25. (File)

Invoking terror charges under the UAPA, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Friday submitted its chargesheet against 10 accused, including dismissed Mumbai Police API Sachin Waze and retired ACP Pradeep Sharma, for allegedly planting gelatin sticks in an SUV near the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani — and the murder days later of Thane resident Mansukh Hiran, who had been using the vehicle and had reported its theft.

The chargesheet, running into over 9,000 pages, also names dismissed Mumbai Police officers Sunil Mane, Riyazuddin Kazi and Vinayak Shinde, and others allegedly involved in the conspiracy, Santosh Shelar, Naresh Gor, Anand Jadhav, Manish Soni and Satish Mothkuri.

The chargesheet includes section 20 of the UAPA, which pertains to membership of a terrorist gang or organisation. The other UAPA sections include section 16 (terrorist act) and section 18 (conspiracy). A senior NIA official said the charges were invoked against each of the accused based on their specific role in the alleged conspiracy. “The anti-terror law, UAPA, has not been invoked against certain accused based on their roles,” the official said.

The accused have also been charged under various IPC sections, including 302 (murder), 120B (conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence), and those under the Explosive Substances Act.

The chargesheet includes 200 witness statements, including those of several policemen, Hiran’s family members and 20 protected witnesses. It contains CCTV footage, Call Data Records, bank statements and other documents submitted in sealed envelopes.

The NIA this week had filed other applications before the court, including those seeking protection for witnesses, permission to continue investigation and handover of chargesheets to the accused who are in judicial custody.

The case pertains to the recovery of a threat letter purportedly from a terrorist organisation and 20 gelatin sticks from inside a Scorpio vehicle found parked near Ambani’s residence, Antilia, on February 25. Ten days later, Hiran’s body was found in a Kalwa creek.

The case was first investigated by the crime branch unit headed by Waze, before it was transferred to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and subsequently to the NIA. The central agency’s first arrest in the case was that of Waze on March 13. According to the agency, Waze is the main conspirator, who was allegedly involved in “each aspect of the conspiracy”.

The evidence collected by the NIA includes footage of Waze meeting Hiran in South Mumbai days before the explosives were planted. The agency also claims that Waze had driven the Scorpio and parked it outside the spot, and that he was involved in the murder of Hiran.

The NIA had also recorded the statement of a vendor selling handkerchiefs at the Kalwa station, and accessed Call Data Records to establish the presence of Mane near the creek. According to the agency, Mane contacted Hiran while posing as “officer Tawde”. The NIA has alleged that Mane took Hiran to another car where he was smothered to death. Four other accused, Mothkuri, Soni, Jadhav and Shelar, were present when Hiran was murdered, the agency has alleged.

According to the NIA, Gor’s help was taken in procuring SIM cards that were delivered to Waze and others through Shinde, who is serving life imprisonment in the Lakhan Bhaiyya encounter case and had been let out on parole early this year.

The NIA claims that Sharma was involved in the conspiracy with Waze, with Call Data Records allegedly proving that the co-accused were in touch with the two of them. The agency claims Kazi was involved in destruction of evidence along with Waze.

The case had left Maharashtra’s coalition government red-faced as it was Opposition leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis who first alleged Waze’s involvement. It forced the government to transfer the case to ATS before the NIA took over.

It was following this case that former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh was shunted out. He then wrote a letter claiming allegations of corruption against former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh leading to an FIR. The NIA had also summoned Singh for questioning during its investigation.

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