NIA probes encounter angle in passport found at Sachin Waze house

3 weeks ago 31
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Mukesh Ambani bomb scareThe car outside Mukesh Ambanis' residence in Mumbai. (Express Photo/File)

A PASSPORT found by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) at the home of arrested Mumbai policeman Sachin Waze is one of the key pieces in the Antilia security scare puzzle that investigators are trying to solve.

The Indian Express has learnt that one of the theories the agency is working on is that Waze, known as an “encounter specialist”, allegedly intended to eliminate the holder of that passport and another man.

The plan, they suspect, was to pin the SUV containing the gelatin sticks that was found on February 25 outside Mukesh Ambani’s house on these two men, gun them down the same day, and claim to have “solved” the case.

The two men had a criminal record and were known to Waze, officials familiar with the line of investigation said. The passport was found during a raid at Waze’s home on March 17.

Investigators suspect that the original plan was to get the two men to drive a Maruti Eeco, which had been stolen from Aurangabad, and park it outside Antilia with an Improvised Explosive Device inside. The NIA retrieved the vehicle’s number plate from Mithi river, sources said.

However, investigators suspect that for various reasons, including the fact that Waze had taken on so many important investigations as head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, he could not devote enough time to coordinate this plan. Waze and the other accused then decided to use the SUV that was being used by Mansukh Hiran, the car decor trader who was later found murdered, investigators believe.

Sachin Waze

However, the plan to allegedly “eliminate” the two men in a fake encounter could not be executed as Waze lost control of the investigation within hours of the SUV being detected outside Antilia as the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) took over the case, an officer familiar with the NIA’s probe said.

According to the officer, the plan went haywire “on Day One itself” after the ATS tracked a sticker on the Scorpio and found that it belonged to Hiran. “They had changed number plates and even scratched the chassis number of the Scorpio. However, through a sticker of an insurance company on the vehicle, the ATS tracked it down to Hiran, which derailed their plan,” the officer said.

“So far, it appears that they wanted to encounter the two persons and show that they had averted the threat. Apart from being hailed as heroes, they may have been planning to use it for some profit. We are investigating that lead,” the officer said.

The NIA has made four arrests in the case, including that of Waze, suspended constable Vinayak Shinde, cricket bookie Naresh Gaur and Waze’s colleague Riyaz Kazi. While Kazi is being interrogated by the NIA, the three others are in judicial custody.

Once the plan unravelled, investigators believe, Waze and the co-accused began destroying evidence that could link them to the incident, including CCTV footage. But Waze feared that Hiran would crack under investigation, which is why he personally took over his interrogation, the officer said.

However, investigators believe that when Waze realised the case could be transferred, he allegedly decided with his other accomplices to eliminate Hiran — the businessman was made to write a letter stating he was under mental pressure. “The plan was to make it look like a suicide,” the officer said.

Hiran’s body was found in a creek on March 5. The ATS had named Waze as the “main accused” in its remand application in the Hiran murder case last month before it was taken over by NIA.

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