Ambani bomb scare: Former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma under scanner

The CBI also recorded former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh’s statement on Wednesday

Ambani
The investigation began with the discovery of an explosive-laden SUV found parked outside Antilia, the Mumbai home of Mukesh Ambani, on February 25.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is questioning former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and retired encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma in connection with the Ambani bomb scare and Mansukh Hiran’s death cases.

The CBI, which got a go ahead to question former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, on Wednesday (April 14) recorded Deshmukh’s statement. The agency will file its reply in the Mumbai High Court next week. The NIA, which has been in the case right from the beginning, has submitted the evidence it has collected to the CBI.

“Contrary to claims made by Param Bir Singh, we have been able to establish that Sachin Waze was directly reporting to him. We have recorded his statement in which he has denied knowing anything, but we still have not given him a clean chit,” a senior NIA official told NDTV.

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Param Bir Singh was transferred for mishandling the case in which an explosive-laden car that belonged to auto dealer Mansukh Hiran was found parked outside billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s house in South Mumbai on February 25. A few days later, Hiran was found dead in a Thane creek in mysterious circumstances. Sachin Waze, the suspended assistant police inspector, was arrested on two charges: parking the car outside Ambani’s house and later killing Hiran, the NIA report states.

Also read: Param Bir Singh challenges transfer in SC, seeks CBI probe against minister

Immediately after his transfer, Param Bir Singh wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, accusing Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of using the police force to extort money from bars and restaurants in Mumbai. The Supreme Court then gave a green signal to CBI inquiry against Deshmukh, who resigned as home minister for a “free and impartial probe”.

Singh has maintained that Waze was very much a part of Deshmukh’s alleged extortion racket. “Waze disclosed many things during his custody but we just cannot rely on them as they could all be mere allegations. We need hard evidence to prove our case in court,” an NIA official said.

Former Mumbai police encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma too is under NIA scanner. Sharma is known to be Waze’s mentor for many years. NIA suspects that Sharma could have helped Waze in the Mansukh Hiran case.

Also read: SC gives go ahead to CBI probe against former Maharashtra minister Deshmukh

The NIA is right now focused on finding out the source of explosives that were found in a car outside Ambani’s house. Waze is believed to have told the NIA that he procured the explosives (gelatin sticks) through Sharma’s contact. The NIA is now trying to gather documentary evidence to prove Waze’s claim.

Pradeep Sharma had quit his police job in 2019 to fight the Assembly polls on a Shiv Sena ticket. He lost the election and now runs an NGO named PS Foundation.

The CBI has so far questioned Param Bir Singh, Sachin Waze, assistant police inspector Sanjay Patil, deputy commissioner of police Raju Bhujbal and two personal aides of Deshmukh.

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