Mumbai cop suspected mastermind of Ambani bomb scare

Investigations are pointing to the fact that Mumbai Police officer Sachin Vaze was behind the bomb scare outside billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house on Feb 25.

The Hindustan Times on Wednesday quoted senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers who said he orchestrated the incident as part of a conspiracy to restore his reputation and that the mystery around the explosive-laden vehicle has been solved.

Vaze, a former head of the Crime Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Crime Branch, was initially the lead investigator in the case after a Scorpio car carrying 20 loose gelatin sticks were found near Ambani's Antilia residence on Carmichael Road on Feb 25.

The case was transferred to the NIA on March 8 and Vaze was arrested on March 13.

"Vaze himself was driving the Scorpio car on February 25 while an Innova that belongs to Mumbai police tailed it," a senior NIA officer told the Hindustan Times.

"After parking the Scorpio on Carmichael Road, Vaze sat in the Innova and left."

It is not known if Vaze admitted to this act during interrogation.

The investigators have ruled out a "terror angle" in the incident, particularly after certain crucial pieces of evidence were recovered during raids in Mumbai.

"We have seized a Mercedes and, during the investigation, it was made clear that the car was used by Sachin Vaze, but the owner is not identified yet," said NIA Inspector-General Anil Shukla.

"During the searches we recovered more than Rs5 lakh cash, a counting machine, clothes and the original registration number plate of the Scorpio."

Vaze, 49, was once a renowned Mumbai Police "encounter specialist" alongside officers such as Daya Naik and Pradeep Sharma.

He was suspended from the force in 2004 over the death of a suspect in custody. He returned to the force last year.

"He wanted to prove to Mumbai Police brass that he is still as good by solving a bomb conspiracy. So he planned this whole episode to plant explosives outside Antilia," an NIA officer told HT.

"He wanted the limelight again.

"He probably never thought that the investigation would reach the NIA and that his plan to regain his lost glory would tank."

Vaze's role came under the spotlight after the death of Mr Mansukh Hiren, who owned the Scorpio.

Mr Hiren told the police that it was stolen from his residence.

He was found dead on March 5 and the Mumbai Police said it was a suicide.

His wife, however, said she suspected Vaze's role in the death.

That kicked off a chain of events which eventually led to Vaze being questioned and detained.

Vaze's brother Sudharm moved a habeas corpus petition in the Bombay High Court on Monday, saying that the case by Mr Hiren's widow included "false, frivolous and concocted allegations".

The petition also said that "surprisingly", the very next day an FIR was registered by the NIA - and that this suggested political conspiracy.

Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power at the national level, have been trading allegations of wrongdoing and conspiracy over the case.

Indo-Asian News Service

"He wanted the limelight again. He probably never thought that the investigation would reach the NIA and that his plan to regain his lost glory would tank."

- A National Investigation Agency officer, as quoted by Hindustan Times

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