The Ambani bomb scare case saw a new twist after suspended Mumbai Police top cop Sachin Vaze on Wednesday, 7 April, submitted a handwritten letter before a Mumbai court accusing former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Transport Minister Anil Parab, and others of pressuring him to extort money from the contractors of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and illegal tobacco factories and bars in the city.
Vaze was arrested in connection with the scare caused by explosives in a parked car near Mukesh Ambani’s residence, as well as with the death of Mansukh Hiren – the owner of the said car.
In his letter, Vaze said he was placed under suspension in March 2004 and was duly reinstated in service on 6 June 2020. He claimed that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was against his reinstatement, and had asked for it to be revoked.
Claims Against Anil Deshmukh
In the letter, Vaze said that Deshmukh had told him that if he paid Rs 2 crore to him, "he would convince Pawar to allow him back into the force."
“The home minister told me that he will convince Pawar saheb and for that purpose, he (Deshmukh) asked me to pay Rs 2 crores. I had expressed my inability to pay such an amount. On this the home minister asked me to pay it in later course (sic).”
Vaze further claimed that he was summoned to Sahyadri Guest House by Deshmukh in October 2020, where he was asked to collect Rs 3-3.5 lakh from 1,650 Mumbai bars and restaurants, an order Vaze claims he refused to adhere to, and also told Deshmukh that there were only 200 bars in the area.
The letter notes that this demand was repeated in January 2021 in Deshmukh’s official bungalow, where his PA Kundan was allegedly present.
Claims Against Anil Parab
Vaze also accused Maharashtra Transport Minister and Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab of extortion, noting that he met with him in July-August of 2020, where he was asked to collect Rs 50 crore from Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) to end an ongoing inquiry against them.
“In July-August 2020, I was called by Minister Anil Parab at his official bungalow...At the meeting, Parab asked me to look into the complaint under preliminary inquiry and bring the trustees of the SBUT to him for negotiations about the inquiry. He also insisted to initiate primary talks to get Rs 50 crores from SBUT in order to close the said enquiry (sic),” said the letter.
Vaze maintained that he rejected Parab’s orders to do so and expressed that he does not have any control over the inquiry, nor does he know anyone from SBUT.
The letter alleges that Parab made another attempt in January 2021, when he asked Vaze to collect Rs 2 crore from 50 BMC contractors against whom an inquiry was being conducted by the Crime Intelligent Unit.
Had Informed Param Bir Singh: Vaze
Vaze alleged that former Mumbai Commissioner Param Bir Singh was intimated about these extortion demands, and advised him not to get involved in “any illegal collection of money from anyone or for anyone.”
“I met the Police Commissioner (Singh) and told him that I expressed my apprehension about this. I told him that I would be embroiled in a false controversy in the near future,” said the letter.
Singh, on 20 March, in an unsigned letter had accused Anil Deshmukh of corruption worth Rs 100 crore, a claim Deshmukh has vehemently denied, noting that they are false allegations by Singh in a bid to protect himself from further legal action, in connection with the case.
Extortion From Gutkha Sellers
Vaze alleged that in November 2020 he was approached by Darshan Ghodawat, allegedly an ally of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Ghodawat explained the Gutkha trade to Vaze including specific phone numbers and asked him to collect Rs 100 crore from illegal gutkha sellers, and Vaze was threatened that if he failed to comply, he would lose his job, he claimed.
Vaze claimed that from 1 January 2021, he initiated efforts against the sellers, as well as Gutkha factories, after which Ghodawat approached Vaze and expressed the displeasure of Pawar, and asked him to meet the manufacturers, a request Vaze refused to comply with, he wrote.
Parab Refutes Allegations, Raut Calls it ‘New Tactic’
Parab has refuted the allegations, calling them an attempt to “defame the government.”
“For the last two days, BJP workers were saying Anil Parab's name will surface and he'll have to resign. How did they know Sachin Vaze will give a letter? It's clear that there's a plan of defaming Maharashtra ministers,” Parab told news agency ANI.
He added, “Why didn't Sachin Vaze talk about it earlier? He didn't mention Anil Parab earlier. Suddenly, he writes a letter. It means that he has been made to do all this, to defame the government. I'm ready for any kind of inquiry. I'm even ready for narco test.”
Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut told ANI: “A new tactic has come to light wherein people who are in jail write letters. This is a political conspiracy I know Anil Parab, he can never indulge in such work. I can assure, no Shiv Sainik can take a false oath in Bala Saheb Thackeray's name.”