Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Antilia security threat case: Sachin Vaze dismissed from Mumbai Police

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Mumbai: Former Mumbai crime branch police officer Sachin Vaze, under arrest for his suspected role in planting explosives outside the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and the death of a businessman, was summarily dismissed from service on Tuesday.

The newly appointed Mumbai police commissioner (CP) Hemant Nagrale dismissed Vaze, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on March 13.

The 49-year-old assistant inspector of police headed the Crime Intelligence Unit of the crime branch before he was placed under suspension for his suspected role in planting 20 loose gelatin sticks in a Scorpio vehicle outside Antilia, in south Mumbai, on the intervening night of February 24-25. Vaze was also named as the prime suspect in the death of Thane trader Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the SUV and whose body washed up ashore a creek on March 5.

Nagrale issued an order under Article 311(2)(B) of the Constitution which empowers appointing authorities to summarily dismiss from service a member of civil service without holding a departmental inquiry, where the authority is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to hold such an inquiry.

The CP cited several findings of the NIA probe into the two connected cases against Vaze as grounds for dismissal. This included Vaze’s alleged attempts at destruction of evidence in the explosives case, Hiran’s murder purportedly committed to destroy evidence and stall investigation, the booking of a room at a South Mumbai five star hotel using a fake identity card, as well as the possession of 62 unaccounted live ammunition and suspected unauthorised use of 25 rounds of his service pistol.

Nagrale also cited suspected acts of impersonation, forgery, and floating of companies that conducted financial transactions running into crores of rupees as reasons for Vaze to be summarily dismissed.

“For the reasons recorded above, that the holding of a regular departmental enquiry against API Sachin Hindurao Vaze, will not be reasonably practicable,” the order stated. “Thus, he is dismissed from service with immediate effect,” it added.

Officials at state police headquarters said a similar proposal for the summary dismissal of another Mumbai police officer arrested in the case, Vaze’s former colleague at the criminal intelligence unit of the Mumbai crime branch, API Riyazuddin Kazi, is under process.

Nagrale’s predecessor Param Bir Singh was transferred to head the Maharashtra Home Guards on March 17, following Vaze’s arrest.

Vaze was originally in charge of investigation of the bomb scare case, but was removed after reports emerged of his links with Hiran, who had reported the SUV stolen on February 17, 2021. After Hiran’s body was found on March 5, it emerged that Vaze had borrowed the Scorpio from Hiran in November and had returned it on February 5.

The NIA took over the explosives case on March 8 and the murder case on March 24. Vaze was named the main accused in both, and was arrested by NIA on March 13.

The NIA has arrested two more Mumbai police officers — Kazi and police inspector Sunil Mane — for their alleged involvement in both cases. A bookie, Naresh Gor and a former constable, Vinayak Shinde, have also been arrested for their suspected role in Hiran’s death.

Vaze was suspended from service in 2004, and resigned in 2007 after the state initiated a case against him for his role in the custodial death of a blast accused. He was reinstated by the former Mumbai police commissioner, Singh, in 2020.

Vaze is also being prosecuted for custodial death of Khawaja Yunus, an accused in Ghatkopar bomb blast case of 2002.

Yunus, an engineer, was arrested by the Mumbai crime branch in connection with the bomb blast case, and later reportedly died in police custody. The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) had, in March 2004 charged Vaze and three other police personnel — Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai — with murder and destruction of evidence. Following this, Vaze was placed under suspension.

Vaze, who was inducted in police service as sub-inspector on June 20, 1990 and who was promoted to the post of API in June 2003, eventually resigned from service on November 30, 2007. The following year, he joined the Shiv Sena. Though the trial in Yunus’ custodial death case is yet to be concluded, Vaze was reinstated in service on June 6, 2020. So were the three other policemen who had been booked for their alleged involvement in Yunus’s custodial death.

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