The National Investigation Agency, which is probing the recovery of an explosives-laden Scorpio SUV outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai last month, has seized a black Mercedes-Benz car, which allegedly used to be driven by arrested police officer Sachin Vaze. The anti-terror agency has recovered Rs 5 lakh cash, a note-counting machine, some clothes and the license plate of the SUV from the car.
“NIA today seized a black Mercedes-Benz car. We have recovered the number plate that was on the Scorpio car, over Rs 5 Lakh in cash, a note-counting machine and some clothes…Sachin Vaze used to drive this car... the ownership of the car is under investigation,” senior NIA officer Anil Shukla told reporters.
On February 25, the Scorpio SUV with explosives was found abandoned near Mukesh Ambani’s residential building Antilia. It also had a threat note to him and his wife Nita Ambani. The car was traced to a Thane-based auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiran, who had filed a stolen report with the police on February 17.
Mr Hiran was found dead in a creek near Mumbai on March 5. His wife alleged that Sachin Vaze, the first investigating officer in the bomb scare case, had used the car for four months and returned it on February 5. She also accused the officer of having a role in her husband’s death.
Days after taking over the case from the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad, the NIA last week arrested Sachin Vaze for his alleged role in placing the SUV near Mr Ambani’s residence. He was questioned by the agency for hours on Sunday.
The NIA on Monday alleged that Mr Vaze seized CCTV footage at his own apartment complex and erased it. It searched his office and seized his computer tablet, laptop and some mobile phones
The ruling Shiv Sena had slammed the centre for handing over the case to the NIA. It said that the Mumbai police and the ATS were capable of handling the case, and the centre’s action demoralised the local law enforcement.
“Sachin Vaze is not Osama Bin Laden. It is not right to target a person and hang him and then investigate,” Uddhav Thackeray had said last week, adding those responsible for the act will not be spared.
The BJP has accused the Chief Minister of trying to protect Mr Vaze because he was a Sena member during a break in his career.