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From Mahindra Scorpio to Land Cruiser Prado and disgraced cop Sachin Vaze: A timeline of events till now in Antilia bomb scare case

From the recovery of an explosives-laden vehicle outside Ambani's residence to the transfer of the Mumbai Police Commissioner, the case has turned to be one of the most controversial cases in recent history.

Over the last few weeks, the Antilia bomb scare case has taken a dramatic turn with the arrest of Mumbai police “encounter specialist” Sachin Vaze. The controversial cop and former Shiv Sena leader Sachin Vaze is also accused of murdering Mansukh Hiren, an important witness in the case. After his arrest by NIA, Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh has also been transferred from his post.

From the recovery of an explosives-laden vehicle outside Ambani’s residence to the transfer of the Mumbai Police Commissioner, the case has turned to be one of the most controversial cases in recent history.

Here is a complete timeline of the events that have unfolded in the Antilia bomb scare case:

February 17: A Mumbai-based Businessman Mansukh Hiren’s car was stolen from Vikhroli area.

February 18: A day later, Mansukh Hiren files a police complaint at Vikhroli police station. In his complaint, Hiren claims that he had given the SUV to Sachin Vaze, who returned the car on 5 February 2021 owing to a technical snag in the steering.

Hiren said that he was forced to park the car at the Eastern Express Highway in Vikhroli on 17 February after the “steering got jammed”. The car was missing when he came back the next day and lodged a complaint with Vikhroli police station in Mumbai.

February 25: A Scorpio car with 20 explosive gelatin sticks was found outside Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai residence – ‘Antilia’. The security staff of Antilia informed police about the suspicious Scorpio on Thursday at noon. Along with the bomb disposal squad and the canine squad, a police team soon reached the spot to look into the matter. The police cordoned off the area and removed the car from the spot.

The bomb-laden Scorpio found outside Mukesh Ambani’s home Antilia in Mumbai/ Image Source: India Today

The Mumbai Police recovered 20 unassembled gelatin sticks, some number plates and a threatening letter from the car. Several cops, including Mumbai’s crime intelligence unit headed by Sachin Vaze, reached the spot for investigation.

It is revealed from CCTV footage that two cars – an Innova (white colour) and a Scorpio (green colour) were allegedly used to plant the bombs outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. The Innova had trailed the Scorpio, and after parking the Scorpio near Antilia, its driver had got into the Innova to leave the place.

The Mumbai Police also recovered a letter addressed to Mukesh and Neeta Ambani claiming that the planting explosives was just a ‘trailer’ and threatened to return later with more preparations to assassinate the whole family.

February 26: The Mumbai Police investigation reveals that the bomb-laden car belonged to Mansukh Hiren. ATS soon picks him up for investigation.

February 27: Two days after the SUV laden with explosive material was discovered outside Antilla, the residence of Mukesh Ambani and his family in Mumbai, a threatening message from a Telegram account in the name of Jaish ul Hind was posted, along with a demand for payment in a cryptocurrency (Monero) from Mukesh Ambani.

The Telegram message

The Islamic terror group Jaish-ul-Hind claimed responsibility for planting the explosives-laden vehicle outside Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s house in Mumbai. However, the same evening, in another letter, Jaish Ul Hind said that it had nothing to do with the car found near Ambani’s house.

On the same day, Mansukh Hiren was seen going to the commissioner’s office in a white Land Cruiser Prado with Sachin Vaze. This vehicle costing one crore rupees belongs to a Shiv Sena leader.

March 2: Mansukh Hiren alleges harassment by the police in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh, Thane Police chief Vivek Phansalkar. He had alleged that he was being treated like an accused despite being a victim in the case. Hiren wrote that NIA, police and journalists were harassing him, causing his mental health to deteriorate.

March 4: Hiren gets a call from “some Tawde of Kandivli Crime Branch”, who asks him to meet at Ghodbunder Road in Thane. Hours later, Hiren goes missing.

March 5: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis makes a sensational disclosure on March 5 in Vidhan Sabha where he claims that Assistant Police officer Sachin Vaze was in touch with Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the Scorpio car that was found laden with explosives outside the Ambani residence.

Hours later, Mansukh Hiren is found dead after being “missing” for five hours. During the initial investigation, the police said that it looked like Hiren had ended his life by jumping into Kalwa creek. However, the police claim is questioned as several handkerchiefs were stuffed in his mouth, suggesting a murder.

March 6: The family members of Mansukh Hiren refuses to accept his body, stating that they will do it only after the police and the administration make his postmortem report public. 

Hiren’s wife alleges that Sachin Vaze, the Mumbai crime branch officer, killed her husband. The family points towards the letter penned by Hiren in which he alleged that he was mentally harassed in connection with the Antilia bomb scare case. Besides, the family members of Hiren rejects the notion that Hiren might have committed suicide. 

Meanwhile, the opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis alleges that the last known location of Mansukh Hiren’s phone was near Shiv Sena leader Dhananjay Gawde’s office. Both Gawde and Vaze are purportedly close as both were named in an extortion case in 2017. BJP demands Vaze’s arrest.

The Maharashtra government transfers all three cases – Mansukh Hiren death case, stolen Scorpio case and Antilia bomb scare case to ATS.

March 8: The NIA takes over the Ambani bomb scare case, but the Mansukh Hiren death case remains with the Maharashtra ATS.

March 10: Facing heat from the opposition, the Maharashtra government announces that Sachin Vaze would be removed from the Crime Branch and posted in some other department.

March 11: The Delhi police recovers a SIM card and cell phone used to threaten Ambani from Indian Mujahideen member Tehsin Akhtar’s barracks in Tihar jail.

The SIM and cell phone were used to create the Jaish-ul-Hind Telegram account that claimed responsibility for the explosive-laden SUV and demanded cryptocurrency. The mobile phone user used an app to generate virtual numbers and then made a Telegram account. He was also using a TOR browser to mask his IP address on the internet.

Meanwhile, Sachin Vaze is questioned by state ATS in Mansukh Hiren death case, and the NIA team carries raids at different locations in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar.

March 13: NIA summons Sachin Vaze for questioning, and after 12 hours of interrogation, they arrest him in connection with the case. During the interrogation, Mumbai top cop Sachin Vaze reportedly admits that he was involved in the Antilla Bomb Scare case. Sachin Vaze says he is just a very small part of the plan and the Shiv Sena leaders he named played a bigger role.

The NIA books Sachin Vaze under Sections 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy, Section 286 for negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance, Section 465 for forgery, Section 473 for making or possessing counterfeit seal and 506(2) for criminal intimidation.

Before the arrest, Sachin Vaze puts up a dramatic WhatsApp message –  “time to say goodbye to the world coming closer.”

March 14: The National Investigative Agency officials recover the white Innova car from the Mumbai Police Commissionerate office. In addition to the Scorpio, the white Innova was used to plant the explosives outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai on February 25.

The Innova seized by NIA

The NIA officials traced the white Innova to the Mumbai Police Commissionerate office, where the suspicious car was parked. The NIA officials found that the white Innova belonged to the Mumbai Police’s CIU unit and was used by Sachin Vaze. In the meanwhile, the ATS already looking for the car but ‘could not find it’.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut comes to the rescue of Sachin Vaze, says the tainted cop is “very honest and capable officer”.

March 15: NIA says it has accessed CCTV footage, fingerprints and other evidence against Sachin Vaze. NIA gained access to CCTV footage covering a 2 km radius of Sachin Vaze’s CIU office from 25th February to 5th March 2021.

As per NIA, the CCTV footage confirms that Sachin Vaze met Mansukh Hiren on 25th February, the same day, gelatin laden Scorpio was discovered at Mukesh Ambani’s residence. 

Arrested Mumbai cop and controversial “Encounter specialist” Sachin Vaze suspended by an order of Addl CP Special Branch, says Mumbai Police PRO.

Subsequently, Maharashtra BJP leader Nitesh Rane makes serious allegations against Sachin Vaze involving the Indian Premier League. Rane alleges that Vaze was in touch with bookies that start operating before the T20 cricket league.

Meanwhile, The NIA reveals that CCTV footage of Vaze’s society had gone missing. The NIA says Sachin Vaze’s aide API Riyaz Qazi had visited Sachin Vaze’s building in Saket society in Thane and took CCTV footage of and between February 17 to February 24.

March 16: The next day, it is disclosed that the CCTV footage was procured by none other than the tainted police officer himself. Vaze had reportedly seized the CCTV footage of his society, stating that the DVR was needed for official use by the police.

The footage was subsequently damaged. Vaze had allegedly confiscated the video footage so that no evidence can be found during the interrogation.

In another sensational disclosure, the NIA says that the explosives-laden Scorpio car that belonged to Mansukh Hiren that was found outside Antilia was never stolen but used by Assistant Police officer Sachin Vaze. That is the reason Vaze destroyed the CCTV footage, as it would have proven that the car with him before it was planted near Antilia.

It is reported that the car was used by Vaze, who had asked Hiren to file a false complaint about it being stolen. The NIA believe the owner of the car was pressurised to file a complaint about his missing car.

Not just his residence, Sachin Vaze also collected CCTV footage from a linked to the case, and destroyed it. He visited the shop where the fake number plates for the Scorpio and the Innova cars were made, and took away the DVR of the CCTV and the register of the shop.

March 17: The NIA seizes a black Mercedes car used by the tainted Mumbai cop from the Crawford market area. The NIA officials also recover the number plate of the Scorpio car that used to plant bombs outside Antilia from the Mercedes car.

The NIA officials also recovered unaccounted cash of Rs 5 lakh, a few clothes and a cash counting machine from the car, in addition to the number plate that was attached to the Scorpio. The car used by the police officer had a fake number plate on it.

On the same day, one of the staff of Vaze admits before the National Investigation Agency saying that Vaze was seen wearing a PPE kit near Antilia a day before a bomb-laden car was parked outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence. The National Investigating Agency officials also recover a shirt from Sachin Vaze that was allegedly worn inside the PPE kit.

Maharashtra government sacks Param Bir Singh as Mumbai Police chief transfers him to DG Home Guard’s post. Hemant Nagrale replaces Singh.

March 18: The National Investigation Agency seizes two more luxury cars in the Antilia bomb scare case, which are linked to API Sachin Vaze, raising the total tally of the seized car in the case to 5.

NIA brings two more luxury SUVs to its office in Mumbai in connection with the case. One of the cars is a black luxury SUV, a Mercedes Benz ML 250 CDI. After that, the agency brought another high-end SUV, a white Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GRJ 120 R. The Prado belongs to Vijaykumar Ganpat Bhosle, who is a Shiv Sena leader. It is also reported that NIA is looking for two more cars in the case, a blue Mercedes and a Skoda car.

The Land Cruiser Prado and Mercedes cars

The NIA also takes control of video footage recorded outside the Crime Branch that shows the tainted Mumbai Cop and former Shiv Sena leader Sachin Vaze with Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the bomb-laden Scorpio.

Sachin Vaze, the prime accused in the Antilia bomb scare case, was seen arriving at the Crime Branch unit in a Land Cruiser Prado along with Mansukh Hiren. The footage was recorded on February 26, a day after the bomb-laden Scorpio was detected outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. The Prado car belongs to Shiv Sena leader Vijaykumar Ganpat Bhosle.

March 19: Top sources in the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) says that they had found injuries on the body of businessman Mansukh Hiren’s head and neck. An unnamed source in the Maharashtra ATS says that Hiren might have been assaulted before his death. The ATS official says that it appeared that someone might have assaulted Mansukh Hiren with a blunt and heavy object.

The investigation into all the three cases are currently active. Any information pertaining to the cases will be further updated.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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