High-profile Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze has become a bone of contention between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the BJP-led Opposition in Maharashtra, ever since he took over the investigation of the case regarding explosives being recovered outside Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai residence.
In an FIR registered on 7 March, the family of Mansukh Hiren whose car was found parked with explosives outside Mukesh Ambani’s house has levelled serious allegations against Vaze and accused him of Mansukh’s murder.
As the Devendra Fadnavis-led Opposition has attacked the Shiv Sena-led government for shielding Vaze because he is associated with Sena, the MVA government now finds itself in a soup over the matter.
Mansukh Hiren’s Family’s Allegations Against Vaze
In the FIR dated 7 March, 2021, Vimala, wife of Mansukh Hiren, has alleged that Vaze was involved in the alleged conspiracy to frame her husband and has allegedly mudered him.
Here are the highlights and the timeline of Vaze’s alleged association with Mansukh, as narrated by Vimala Hiren in the FIR :
- Mansukh Hiren was in possession of the Scorpio car for three years which belonged to Peter Newton with his consent.
- Mansukh gave the Scorpio to Vaze, who was a regular client, in November 2020.
- On 5 February 2021, Vaze sent this car with driver to their shop complaining of a hard steering.
- On 17 February, Mansukh left alone for Mumbai in this car at 6:30 pm. As the steering was jammed, he parked the car ahead of Mulund toll plaza and took a cab for Mumbai. On 18 February, an employee of the shop went to the spot with Mansukh to repair the car but it was missing. A theft case was then registered with the Vikhroli police station.
- On 25 February, the family saw media reports about a Scorpio with explosives at Antilia but they were not sure if it is the same car. The same day, Inspector Salvi from the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) called Mansukh and asked him to come to the police station, where he was shown the picture of the car. After he identified the Scorpio, he showed the cops the theft FIR that was registered. Mansukh was then questioned and sent home the next morning.
- On 26 and 27 February, Mansukh spent two consecutive days with Vaze till 10.30 pm. Mansukh’s statement in the matter was recorded on 28 February when Vaze had accompanied him and the written copy of the statement has Vaze’s signature.
- After skipping a summon for questioning on 1 March, Mansukh, accompanied by Vaze, had submitted a written complaint of harassment by the police which was addressed to the chief minister, the home minister and the police commissioners of Mumbai and Thane.
- On 3 March, Mansukh informed Vimala that Vaze had advised him to get arrested and that he will be released in 2-3 days. On 4 March, Mansukh asked Vimala to look for a lawyer to arrange for anticipatory bail. The same evening, Mansukh told Vimala that he is meeting a police officer called Tawde in Ghodbunder.
- Mansukh did not return till 1:00 am on 5 March and that is when the family contacted Vaze, who asked them to wait till the morning. A missing persons complaint was filed on 5 March at the the Naupada police station. Mansukh’s body was found in the Mumbra creek hours later.
- Mansukh was a good swimmer and cannot drown. His belongings like phone, gold chain, wallet etc were not found on the body.
Politicking Over Vaze
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Assembly was rocked on Thursday over Vaze’s alleged association with Mansukh, with Fadnavis demanding his immediate suspension and arrest in the case.
“Why he is not being arrested under Section 201 of IPC (destroying evidence)? Who is defending him?” Fadnavis asked.
Quoting the statement of Mansukh Hiren's wife, Fadvanis says Vaze (who was investigating officer in case of recovery of explosives near Mukesh Ambani's house) was in possession of the suspected car (in which explosive were found) for 4 months.
While the BJP MLAs raised slogans of “Ye sarkar khooni hai,” Fadnavis said: “Sachin Vaze is being defended as he was member of a political party. If you don't do anything about him, you are giving him a chance to destroy evidence. He should be suspended immediately. If you defend him, doubts may be raised against you too.”
Sachin Vaze: The Controversial Encounter Specialist
A 1990 batch officer from Kolhapur, Vaze has been marred with several controversies in the past. Vaze was one of the most renowned encounter specialists of the 90s. Having worked under former head of Andheri Crime Intelligence Unit, Pradeep Sharma, Vaze is said to have encountered over 60 criminals, including people from the gangs of Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan.
His first posting was in a Naxal-affected Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, following which he was transferred to Thane Police in 1992. He was soon inducted in the special squad of the Thane Crime Branch. He was also inducted into the special squad of Anti-Extortion Cell as an ‘encounter specialist’.
Vaze is credited with a lot of successful cyber crime cases. He is also credited for setting up the Cell Phone Inspection Unit and the Email Tracking System.
Vaze has been overseeing the TRP scam case related to journalist Arnab Goswami and the case of abetment of suicide of Anvay Naik and his mother, in which Goswami is a prime accused. Vaze led the team that had arrested Goswami from his residence recently before he was released on bail.
Suspension and Reinstatement
Following the 6 December 2002 bomb blasts, a case was registered against 14 people in the matter of Khwaja Yonus’ death. Vaze was one of the accused and was suspended in 2004. Vaze then tried to resign in 2007 but could not do so as the case was still pending.
He joined the Shiv Sena in 2008 and was reinstated into the force in June 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic under Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh.
Vaze has authored books on the 26/11 terror attacks, the Sheena Bora case and the David Headley case. The 2013 Marathi film ‘Rege’ is base on Vaze’s life.