Antilia Bomb Scare: NIA Invokes UAPA in Charge Sheet Filed Against Sachin Vaze
The NIA filed the charge sheet two days before the end of the 30-day extension granted to it by the court in August.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday, 3 September, filed a charge sheet against 10 accused, including dismissed police officers Sachin Vaze, ACP Pradeep Sharma, Sunil Mane, Riyazuddin Qazi, and others, while invoking charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the Antilia bomb scare case and the connected death of businessman Mansukh Hiren, The Indian Express reported.
A senior NIA official was reported as saying, “The anti-terror law, UAPA, has not been invoked against certain accused based on their roles.”
In August, the court had granted a 30-day extension to the NIA, which filed the charge sheet two days before the deadline, a defence lawyer said.
The case relates to a bomb scare, when a Scorpio, with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat letter supposedly from a terrorist organisation, was found parked near Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia on 25 February. Days later, the SUV owner Mansukh Hiren's body was found in a creek.
In March, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad had said that it had found former API Sachin Vaze to be the key conspirator in the alleged murder case.
What the Charge Sheet Includes
The charge sheet, submitted before a special NIA court in Mumbai, includes Section 20 of the UAPA (membership of a terrorist gang or organisation), Section 16 (terrorist act), and Section 18 (conspiracy), The Indian Express reported.
It also includes 200 witness statements, including those of police personnel, Hiren’s family members, and 20 protected witnesses. The charge sheet also contains CCTV footage, call records, bank statements, and other documents submitted in sealed envelopes.
Footage of Vaze meeting Hiren in South Mumbai days before the explosives were planted, is included in the evidence collected by the agency. NIA claims that Vaze had driven the Scorpio and parked it outside Ambani's residence, and that he was a key conspirator in the murder of Hiren.
The Mansukh Hiren Case
Hiren was found dead in a creek on 5 March. His car had been stolen from him just days before being discovered outside Antilla, on 25 February.
The NIA had taken over the case in March. A formal order from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had been issued to the NIA in this regard, sources had told The Quint.
The Maharashtra ATS had arrested Naresh Dhare, a 31-year-old bookie, and Vinayak Shinde in connection with the murder probe of Hiren.
Sources in the ATS had earlier told The Quint that Shinde was close to Vaze and had called Hiren posing as ‘Tawde’ from Kandivali Crime Branch on 4 March. Hiren was found dead a day later.
In the FIR registered on 7 March, Hiren’s wife Kamala had alleged that he had left the house after a phone call from a certain police officer named ‘Tawde’.
Shinde had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2007 Lakhan Bhaiya fake encounter case and has been on parole since May 2020 as part of a bid to decongest jails in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dhare, a bookie, had allegedly helped Shinde get the SIM card registered in Gujarat to make the phone call to Hiren.
“Initially, Vaze had assured that the Scorpio was not in his custody, and that he had no role to play in Mansukh Hiren’s murder. However, during the probe, we arrested another suspended cop Vinayak Shinde who was working under Vaze’s instructions.”Maharashtra ATS chief Jaijeet Singh
“The ATS has found evidence against Vaze in the case. The team conducted a technical analysis of the information obtained in the preliminary investigation and traced the SIM card used in the crime. The SIM card was obtained from a bookie, who runs a club and is also involved in betting in Mumbai, at the behest of Sachin Vaze,” Singh had said in March.
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