Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Encounter specialist, high-profile cases: Sachin Vaze, cop arrested in Ambani security scare case

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Sachin Vaze, an assistant police inspector with the Mumbai Police, was arrested late on Saturday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged part in the conspiracy to plant an explosive-laden sports utility vehicle near Reliance Industries Limited chairperson Mukesh Ambani’s house last month. Vaze was arrested by the central agency after questioning him for nearly 12 hours. He was the lead investigator in the explosives case before it was transferred to the Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and later to the NIA.

“Sachin Vaze is part of the group that planted the explosive-laden Scorpio on Carmichael Road (near Antilia) on February 25,” a senior official of the NIA official told HT. The officer also alleged Vaze had confessed to his role but declined to share more details at this stage.

Mansukh Hiran, an auto parts dealer in Thane, had claimed ownership of the abandoned vehicle and told the police that it was stolen a week earlier, He was found dead in a creek in Mumbai on March 5. Hiran’s wife Vimla blamed Vaze for the murder and claimed that her husband had given the SUV to the police officer in November, which he returned in the first week of February.

Also read | Forcible entry not seen on SUV with explosives found near Ambani’s house: Police

Vaze joined the Maharashtra police force in 1990 as a sub-inspector and his first posting was in the Maoist affected area of Gadchiroli. He was moved to Thane city police two years later and came to be known as a good criminal investigator. He was later inducted in the Special Squad of Thane Police’s crime branch, where he gained a reputation as an encounter specialist.

Vaze was transferred to the Powai unit of the Mumbai Police’s crime branch in 2000. It was during his stint here when, together with three other policemen, he faced a charge of murdering Khawaja Yunus, an accused in the December 2, 2002, Ghatkopar blast case. Yunus, a 27-year-old software engineer, was arrested by the Mumbai crime branch, and later reportedly died in police custody. The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) charged Vaze and three other police personnel — Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai — with murder and destruction of evidence on March 3, 2004. Vaze was placed under suspension after this.

Also read | Bomb threat to death: Decoding the case

Vaze resigned from service on November 30, 2007, and joined the Shiv Sena the next year. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said earlier this week Vaze was a member of Shiv Sena till 2008 but no longer related to the party. “Sachin Vaze was in Shiv Sena till 2008 but he did not renew his membership and has no connection with Sena any longer,” Thackeray said while addressing a press conference.

He was reinstated in the police force on June 6, 2020. The assistant police inspector was with the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai Police’s crime branch. Vaze handled a few high-profile cases, including the television rating point (TRP) manipulation case in which 15 people, including Partho Dasgupta, former chief executive officer of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) were arrested. The case pertained to Republic TV, owned by ARG Outlier Media, which had allegedly benefited from purported manipulations of TRPs. The CIU filed a charge-sheet against Vikas Khanchandani, CEO of Republic TV, Dasgupta and Romil Ramgarhia, former CCO of BARC, earlier this year in January.

Also read | ‘Something fishy’: Uddhav after NIA asked to take over Ambani bomb threat probe

Vaze was also part of the police team that arrested news anchor Arnab Goswami in November 2020, in connection with designer Anvay Naik’s suicide. The police said that Naik and his mother Kumud Naik were found dead in May 2018. According to a suicide note, Naik alleged that he and his mother were forced to end their lives because he was not paid his dues amounting to 5.40 crore by Goswami and two others identified as Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda — owners of two different firms, they added.

He also arrested famous sports car designer Dilip Chhabria on December 28, 2020, in connection with allegations of cheating and forgery to avail loans on sports cars made by his firm, Dilip Chhabria (DC) Designs Pvt Ltd. He was also handling the case registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan after his exchange of legal notices with actor Kangana Ranaut in 2016.

Earlier this week, he was transferred from CIU to the Citizen Facilitation Centre (CFC) of Mumbai Police.

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