- The meeting came a week before explosives-laden car was found
- NIA, Maharashtra ATS are probing three cases linked to incident
- Mansukh Hiran was found dead on March 5 in a Thane creek
Arrested Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze met Mansukh Hiran on February 17, the day the Thane businessman’s Mahindra Scorpio SUV was stolen, sources have said. A week later, the car was found on the city’s Carmichael Road, near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence, laden with explosives and a threat letter to the Reliance Industries chief’s family. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which are probing three cases related to the incident, have now found CCTV footage of the two together on that day in the Fort area of the city, they said.
Mr Hiran was found dead on March 5 in a Thane creek, following which his wife alleged Mr Vaze’s involvement in his death. The policeman, now suspended, had borrowed the same SUV for around four months from Mr Hiran, till he returned it on February 5.
On February 17, Mr Vaze and Mr Hiran met inside a black Mercedes-Benz, one of the many cars that investigators have allegedly traced to the arrested policeman in connection with the case, sources said. The meeting, near the General Post Office, lasted around 10 minutes, they said.
Mr Hiran had reported that on February 17 he had parked his Scorpio on the highway in the Vikhroli area of central Mumbai and hired a taxi to reach Crawford Market in south Mumbai. The next day, he realised his SUV was stolen.
Notably, the auto parts trader’s statement was recorded by Mr Vaze himself while he was heading the Crime Intelligence Unit. Yet, he did not record the February 17 meeting he had with Mr Hiran.
While the theft of the car and the death of Mr Hiran are now being probed by the ATS, the NIA is investigating the threat to Mr Ambani.
A Thane court is expected to hear Mr Vaze’s bail plea today. Earlier, while rejecting his plea for interim relief, it had noted that custodial interrogation of the suspended cop was necessary and posted the matter for today. The ATS is likely to place the evidence before the court and seek a production warrant against him.
Mr Vaze is still in the NIA’s custody. He was arrested on March 13, the day after the Thane court rejected his plea for interim relief.