As the National Investigation Agency tightens its noose around Mumbai Police’s decorated officer Sachin Vaze, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana attacked the central government, terming the move as a vendetta against Maharashtra state government.
In a searing article published on Monday, Shiv Sena mouthpiece claimed Mumbai Police was capable enough to crack the Antilia Bomb scare case but the NIA team, sent by the Centre, arrested Sachin Vaze and insulted the Mumbai Police force.
Vaze, the assistant inspector with the Mumbai Police, was arrested by the NIA on the night of March 13 for allegedly planting an explosive-laden Scorpio car outside the residence of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Group, on February 25.
Since his arrest, Maharashtra BJP has trained its guns on the beleaguered Maha Vikas Aghadi government and attacked for reinstating an officer that was under suspension for 16 years in connection with a custodial death case. Shiv Sena, on its part, hit back accusing the centre of interference by sending the NIA team to investigate the matter.
In its article, Sena has said that the state government is well aware of the gravity of the situation and has transferred the case over to the ATS(Anti-Terrorism Squad) but even as the probe was underway, the Centre rushed in an NIA team for investigation. This, according to Sena, is an unwarranted interference by the central government.
“Vaze was already transferred and the Antilia Bomb scare case was handed over to the state ATS team. Even as the case was under investigation, the Centre sent the NIA to investigate the case. It was unnecessary. But, if there is a chance of laying obstacles in the way of Maharashtra state agencies in their investigation, why should any of the investigating agencies of the Centre remain behind,” the editorial in Saamana caustically noted.
The article further added that the immediate arrest of Vaze has made the BJP euphoric. Hitting out at the centre, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece alleged that concerted attempts are being made to destabilise the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, paint them in a bad light, slap false cases against them and infringe upon the rights of the state government.
The editorial also cited the Sushant Sigh Rajput case to allege that the Centre has been needlessly meddling in the state matters, only to make a false case against the state government. It also slammed the NIA team, stating that the investigative agency could not end the arms struggle in Kashmir while it came to investigate the recovery of explosives outside the Ambani residence.
“In Sushant case, Mumbai Police did a superb job of investigation, yet the Centre brought the CBI for investigation. What did CBI unearth? They kept prowling but they could not find anything. Kangana Ranaut did illegal things, yet the central government and BJP people stood by her. When the investigation into the recovery of 20 gelatine sticks was being carried out by the state Anti-Terrorist Squad, the ‘NIA’ jumped into it. Such cache of explosives are routinely found in Kashmir, does the NIA squad go there?” the article said.
It further said, “It is still an enduring mystery as to how the cache of explosives made their way inside Pulwama and how 40 of our soldiers died in the blast. The movement of arms, explosives continue unabated on the Bihar-Nepal border. Even the situation on the Manipur-Myanmar border remains tensed and grim. In Naxal prone areas, entire factories of arms and explosives are built, there are anti-national conspiracies abound, but the NIA never visits such places. They could only sniff the gelatin sticks.”
Attacking the central government, the article said it has become a habit of the Centre to get in central investigative agencies whenever any trouble flares up in Maharashtra. “Ambani is one of the foremost businessmen in the country, there should have been no lapse in his security. That is why twenty gelatin sticks found in the premises of his house and the subsequent death of Mansukh Hiren, both cases are serious. But Mumbai Police could not investigate the matter because of the NIA,” said the article.
The article also lavished praises on the Mumbai Police, extolling them as a force that took the main accused in the Mumbai bomb blasts case to the gallows. It also cited the capture and the subsequent hanging of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, stating that it was done by a team led by Mumbai-Maharashtra police.
“Despite Mumbai Police’s impressive past record of bravery and courage, the arrival of the National Investigation Agency in Mumbai for the investigation of 20 gelatin sticks is shocking. This reflects that the NIA was sent to settle previous scores,” the article said.
“Encounter Specialist” Sachin Vaze arrested by the NIA
The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) on Saturday arrested controversial ‘Encounter specialist’ Sachin Vaze, who is at the centre of the investigation in connection with the mysterious death of Mansukh Hiren and the explosives-laden car found outside the residence of Mukesh Ambani. The Maharashtra Assistant Police Inspector was arrested at 11.50 PM on Saturday, after being grilled by the central agency for 12 hours. Vaze will be presented before the court on Sunday.
Vaze has been arrested under Sections 286 (Negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (Punishment for forgery), 473 (Making or possessing counterfeit seal), 506(2) (criminal intimidation), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code and 4(a)(b)(I)(attempt to cause an explosion) of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
During the probe, Vaze said he was just the tip of the iceberg and had reportedly named several Shiv Sena leaders who were allegedly involved in the bomb scare.
White Innova car recovered from Mumbai Police
On Sunday, the NIA recovered the white Innova car that was found tailing the explosive laden Scorpio placed outside Antilia. It was revealed that the car, the numberplate of which was not traceable, was being used by Mumbai Police Crime Investigation United. Further, reports suggested that it was Vaze who himself used to drive this car. Moreover, media reports suggested that the Scorpio car found with explosives was also the same car used to escort Alibaug Police to arrest Arnab Goswami in Anvay Naik death case last year. Vaze was leading the said investigation.
Maharashtra top cop removed from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch
On Wednesday, Sachin Vaze was removed from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch after his name surfaced in connection with the matter. The case had gotten murkier and murkier after it was reported that Vaze was in touch with Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the car, since June 2020. Hiren was subsequently found dead in the Kalwa creek, which only served to deepen the mystery surrounding the attack against Mukesh Ambani.
The Maharashtra ATS have already interrogated and recorded his statement in the matter.
‘Encounter cop’ Sachin Vaze has a problematic past, to say the least. He was accused in the custodial death case of one Khwaja Younis. Under suspicion, he was suspended from the police force. After his suspension, he had joined the Shiv Sena and had been only recently reinstated by the Uddhav Thackeray led government.