NIA Takes Vaze into Custody, Maharashtra ATS to Follow Suit

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Aritra Banerjee
Aritra Banerjee
Aritra Banerjee is a Journalist with Indian Aerospace & Defence, Co-Author of the book 'The Indian Navy @75: Reminiscing the Voyage' and the Co-Founder of Mission Victory India (MVI), a new-age military reforms think-tank. He has been a columnist writing on defence and strategic affairs for national and international publications in both print and digital media.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), India’s premier counter terrorism task force is currently investigating the ‘Antilia Bomb scare’ in which a gelatin sticks laden Scorpion, Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) was found parked outside billionaire industrialist, Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia residence in South Mumbai on 25 February 2021. To recreate the scene of the crime, the agency took suspended ‘encounter specialist’ Assistant Police Inspector (API) Sachin Vaze to where the vehicle was found as part of the NIA’s ongoing investigation.

According to NIA officials, Vaze was spotted outside Ambani’s residence the day the SUV was found. “Vaze had worn an oversized kurta-pajama to mask his body language and had covered his face with a cloth to conceal his identity,” said agency officials in an earlier statement. Vaze is also the key suspect in the death of Thane based businessman Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the Scorpio in question. Hiren’s diatom test carried out by forensics experts indicated that he was alive when he was in the water disputing the police’s initial suicide theory. Vimla Hiren, wife of the deceased had also accused the former encounter specialist of his involvement in her husband’s death. 

The body of the deceased was found dead in a Thane creek, wearing a Coronavirus face mask and had cloth inside his mouth. This further went against the suicide hypothesis; According forensic experts, cloth in the mouth may have been used to prevent water from entering the lungs, resulting in the body remaining submerged for longer. The rationale behind this, as explained was that the human body tends to become buoyant when in water for a long time, as a result of water entering the lungs and other parts of the body, which in the context of a potential homicide could lead to early detection. 

The former encounter specialist, was an API in the Mumbai Police’s Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) before his name cropped up in connection to the businessman’s death, following which he was transferred to the Citizen Facilitation Centre at Mumbai Police Headquarters (HQ). From there he was taken into the custody of the NIA. The suspect was also present when doctors had performed Hiren’s post-mortem at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hospital. Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) will also be taking Vaze into custody after being released by the NIA. Furthermore, statements from the three doctors who carried out Hiren’s post-mortem will be reexamined by ATS Mumbai, along with Vaze’s presence there. Thane sessions court will hear the accused’s anticipatory bail on 30 March 2021.


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