Over 10 vehicles have so far been seized by the central agency in connection to the murder and the Ambani terror scare cases.
With the arrest of former Mumbai Police officer Pradeep Sharma and four others in the last few days, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claims to have identified most of the key men involved in the conspiracy to plant explosives outside Antilla, the residence of Mukesh Ambani, and the murder of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran.
While the NIA is yet to reveal the motives of the alleged perpetrators, its probe so far has reportedly revealed that the planting of the explosives and Hiran’s killing were the result of a complex operation that involved serving, retired and suspended police officers.
What follows is a reconstruction of events that transpired on February 25, the day the explosives were planted in a Scorpio vehicle outside Antilla, and March 4 when Hiran was killed.
Early on February 25, arrested Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze reportedly drove a Scorpio vehicle from his residence in Thane. He was accompanied by his official driver, who was instructed to tail him in an Innova car, belonging to the Mumbai Police. The Scorpio, the NIA has claimed, belonged to Hiran, who on February 18 had parked it at Vikhroli.
Hiran, as per NIA, had handed over the keys of the vehicle to Waze in south Mumbai. A day later, he had filed a police complaint alleging that the Scorpio was stolen. The Scorpio was later allegedly moved from Vikhroli to Waze’s residence.
On February 25, after entering Mumbai from Thane, Waze reportedly swapped places with his driver, who drove the Scorpio and parked it outside Antilla. The driver then got into the Innova – driven by Waze – that was following and drove away with Waze. There is no clarity if anyone else was present in the Innova.
According to NIA, around 6.30 pm, then assistant inspector Sachin Waze, who headed the Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) located at the Mumbai Police headquarters, left his cellphone as well as his official vehicle so that it would appear that he never left the headquarters. He then allegedly lunged across the compound wall of the headquarters, thereby avoiding the main entrance that has CCTV cameras.
As per CCTV footage, Waze is seen boarding a local train from CST station. He got off at Kalwa station ahead of Thane, where he resides. Outside the station, he reportedly purchased handkerchiefs from a vendor. As per NIA, Waze was then picked up by inspector Sunil Mane, then in charge of crime branch (Unit XI) around 7 pm.
Mane allegedly gave his cellphone and bag to another colleague and asked him to take it home. As per NIA, this was done to ensure that his cellphone records show that he was at home.
The NIA has claimed that that all the accused used SIM cards and cellphones procured by bookie Naresh Gaur. These were reportedly handed over to the accused by suspended officer Vinayak Shinde, who was out on parole after being convicted in the 2006 Lakhan Bhaiyya encounter case.
As per NIA, the accused conspired to kill Hiran in two meetings – one held at the police headquarters and the other at Pradeep Sharma’s residence – since they feared Hiran would reveal the Scorpio was parked by Waze’s driver outside Antilla. Waze had allegedly informed Hiran that he would need to go “underground” and that he will help him with the same. Around 8 pm, Mane reportedly called up Hiran and identified himself as “inspector Tawde”. The duo picked up Hiran in their car and took him to Ghodbunder road near Dwarka lodge. There was a red Tavera car waiting, in which the four men – Santosh Shelar, Anand Jadhav, Manish Soni and Satish Mothkuri – arrested in the past week were allegedly present. All the four are believed to be close to Sharma.
According to NIA, Hiran then sat in the Tavera while Waze and Mane left around 9.30 pm. Waze took a train and reached Dongri where CIU was conducting a raid at a bar. There, assistant inspector Riyaz Kazi, his colleague in CIU who has also been arrested, handed him over his phone.
Mane, in the meantime, reportedly drove towards Virar with Hiran’s phone and belongings. To allegedly mislead investigators, he switched off Hiran’s phone for a bit at Tungareshwar so that the investigators would think that was his last location.
However, Hiran had by then been throttled to death by the accused in the moving Tavera, the NIA has claimed. The accused then reportedly stuffed Hiran’s face with handkerchiefs and put on a face mask so that water would not enter his body. They then threw the body in Mumbra creek hoping that it would sink as Hiran’s mouth was gagged.
As per NIA, the accused then called up Sharma and Waze to inform that the task was accomplished. However, the high tide soon receded and due to the low tide, Hiran’s body rose to the surface of the creek and was found by some fishermen who alerted the police.
The men arrested so far
Assistant inspector before his dismissal
The main accused in the case, he is believed to have been part of the conspiracy to park the Scorpio vehicle — containing gelatin sticks — outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25. He also reportedly planned to kill two people in a fake encounter to show that the case has been solved. Later, he along with other accused, decided to kill Mansukh Hiran, as they suspected he would spill the beans on them.
Retired as ACP
As per NIA, Sharma, who was Waze’s senior in the force before he retired, was involved in the conspiracy and destruction of evidence. Many of the men arrested for Hiran’s murder are reportedly close to Sharma. After murdering Hiran, the accused had called up Sharma and Waze, NIA has claimed.
Assistant inspector before his dismissed
Waze’s colleague at the Crime Intelligence Unit, he reportedly destroyed evidence that would have linked Waze to the case.
Inspector when dismissed
Formerly an inspector with the Crime Branch and known to be close to Waze, he had allegedly called up Hiran claiming to be “inspector Tawde”. He is also believed to have handed over Hiran to the other accused, knowing that he was to be killed.
Known to be close to Pradeep Sharma, he has 19 cases lodged against him. He was present in the red Tavera car in which Hiran was murdered.
Suspended constable before his dismissal
He was part of the conspiracy meeting held to eliminate Hiran. He had also delivered SIM cards that were used by the accused while committing the crime.
He was responsible for arranging the SIM cards used in the crime and handing them over to Shinde.
Santosh Shelar’s aide
He was present in the red Tavera vehicle in which Hiran was murdered. He reportedly played a part in disposing the body.
Associate of Pradeep Sharma
He was involved in Hiran’s murder and disposal of the body. He was present in the Tavera.
Close aide of Pradeep Sharma
He was reportedly the fourth person present in the Tavera car in which Hiran was murdered.