Mumbai/New Delhi: As more skeletons fall out of the cupboards of the Mumbai crime branch in the Ambani threat case, initial investigations point towards involvement of a few key police officers who allegedly backed Assistant Police Inspector(API) Sachin Vaze in parking an explosive-laden SUV near Antilia, the multi-storey residence of top industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
Tampering of evidence relating to crucial CCTV footage and fudging records of an official vehicle parked at the Mumbai Police headquarters indicate connivance of a few senior officials, highly placed sources in a central agency revealed.
While Vaze is being interrogated in National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody to corroborate facts of the case, linking him directly in the crime, BJP spokesperson and legislator Ram Kadam said that tampering of evidence at the behest of powerful officials by Sachin Vaze clearly points out that senior cops turned a blind eye to crucial evidence being compromised by the accused. “Two things are clear by now. Vaze executed the crime and a few powerful persons in the government backed him as he plotted the explosives to scare a business house,” Kadam told IANS, while adding,”It seems the objective of crime was to threaten the country’s top business house which had a specific motive….I hope Vaze would soon admit the motive too.”
Sources said that API Sachin Vaze was reportedly present on the spot near Antilia where the explosives-laden SUV was parked. The controversial API used a police car(Innova)as a getaway vehicle to flee from the spot. The Innova was later seized from the Mumbai Police Commissionerate office. During preliminary investigation, it was found that while the Innova was driven out of the Commissionerate office on the night of executing the crime(February 25), no entries of the vehicle’s movement were logged on the registers. As per official norms, the government vehicle’s exit and entry have to be logged in a register whenever it moves in and out of office.
Another crucial evidence which puts Vaze in the dock is registration of an FIR of the stolen SUV(Mahindra Scorpio)at the Vikhroli police station. NIA officials suspect that the SUV was never stolen. The vehicle was being used by Vaze and was parked at his residential society. After the execution of the crime, Vaze has reportedly taken away the Digital Video Recorder(DVR) to seize the CCTV footage of the SUV parked at his society. Before registration of an FIR, the Vikhroli police failed to do due diligence on the whereabouts of the SUV, which was reportedly in Vaze’s possession. “These issues indicate that there were serious lapses on part of senior officers. It seems that Vaze was being protected by the senior officers at the behest of someone powerful in the government,” said Ram Kadam, the BJP MLA who initially raised this matter.
To verify Vaze’s presence at the scene of crime, which links him with the sequence of events leading to parking of the explosives-laden SUV at Antilia, advanced forensics techniques might be used by the NIA. Sources said that at the scene of crime, the footage of a man wearing a PPE kit has been captured by the camera. It is suspected that the man wearing the PPE suit was Sachin Vaze. Investigators are likely to use forensic podiatry technique to identify the suspect. In podiatry forensics, the footprints and walking pattern of a criminal are studied to identify the suspect. If this test corroborates Vaze’s presence on the spot, the report could nail the encounter specialist.
Earlier Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had defended API Sachin Vaze by calling him a capable officer. Raut said that the Mumbai police was investigating the Ambani threat case and there was no need for a Central agency(NIA) to take over the probe. API Sachin Vaze, who was placed under suspension in 2004 over a case of custodial death, was reinstated in the police department months after the Shiv Sena joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to form a government in Maharashtra in late 2019.