CCTV footage shows Vaze met Hiran a week before Ambani bomb scare

The suspended cop met Mansukh Hiran, an auto dealer, inside a black Mercedes-Benz, in Fort area for about 10 minutes. The same day, Hiran lodged police complaint about his stolen SUV

An explosive-laden SUV was found outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence on February 25. | PTI Photo

Suspended Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze met Mansukh Hiran on February 17, the very day Hiran’s Scorpio SUV was stolen, shows a CCTV footage which has now emerged.

A week later, i.e. on February 25, the same SUV was found parked outside business magnate Mukesh Ambani’s muli-storeyed house on Carmichael Road with explosives (gelatin sticks) and a letter of threat for the Ambani family.

The latest CCTV grab, which shows Vaze meeting Hiran, an auto parts dealer, in the Fort area of Mumbai, is being looked into by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the NIA.

Hiran, who knew Vaze beforehand, was found dead in a Thane creek on March 5, a week after the SUV was spotted outside Ambani’s house. Hiran’s wife has accused Vaze of killing her husband. Earlier, Vaze had borrowed the same SUV for about four months from Hiran, and returned it only on February 5.

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The February 17 meeting between Vaze and Hiran happened inside a black Mercedes-Benz, near the General Post Office in Fort area. The meeting lasted around 10 minutes, ATS said.

On February 17 itself, Hiran lodged a complaint with the Vikhroli police station about his stolen SUV. After the Ambani bomb scare case became public, Vaze himself recorded Hiran’s statement, since he was the chief of Crime Intelligence Unit. However, Vaze’s report did not mention the February 17 meeting he had with Hiran.

Vaze’s bail plea will come up for hearing at a Thane court on March 19 (Friday). He was arrested by the NIA on March 13.

Sena-NCP face off

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has tried to defend outgoing Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and questioned the role of NIA in the investigation of Ambani bomb scare case.

An editorial in Sena mouthpiece “Saamna” supported Param Bir Singh. Earlier, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who is a member of NCP, said the decision to transfer Singh was taken by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, because of “unforgivable lapses” is handling the Ambani case. This has strained relations between Shiv Sena and the NCP, the two parties sharing power in Maharashtra along with Congress.

“The gelatin sticks found on Carmichael Road did not explode but these explosives are causing explosions in politics and the administration. The Mumbai Police Commissioner has had to go from his post because of this episode,” the Sena editorial says.

The editorial questioned the NIA’s role in the probe when the Mumbai police Anti-Terrorist Squad was investigating the matter.

“The NIA investigates terror incidents. We want to know what the agency investigating gelatin sticks has found in connection with Uri attack, the Pathankot attack and the Pulwama attack. What truth have they uncovered? How many criminals have they arrested? This is also a matter of suspense,” said the Saamna article.

Param Bir Singh’s transfer does not mean he had committed a crime, the Saamna editorial said.

Also read: Maharashtra minister gives reasons for Param Bir Singh’s transfer

“Param Bir Singh was responsible for the Mumbai Police at a very difficult time and in spite of the Sushant and Kangana case he did not let it affect the morale of the Mumbai Police. That is why even though the CBI was sent in, they could not go beyond the Mumbai Police probe in the case.” The editorial also reminded readers that the TRP scam, involving Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV, was also detected during Singh’s tenure and since then a powerful lobby in Delhi wanted to “settle scores” with Singh.

On Mansukh Hiran’s death, the Saamna editorial said the suspicious death has caused “more grief” to the BJP than anyone, and reminded its old-time ally that one of its MPs, Ramswarup Sharma, “has died under suspicious circumstances in Delhi”.

The editorial also mentioned the deaths of another BJP MP, Mohan Delkar, and Sushant Singh Rajput.

Also read: Mumbai police chief shunted amid Ambani bomb scare case

BJP spokesperson Ram Kadam responded to the Saamna piece. “The Sena is supporting the Waze Gang. They are praising the transferred police commissioner. The Home Minister has mentioned unforgivable lapses. Is he hinting at unforgivable lapses by the Shiv Sena? These two parties are speaking in different voices.  Their differences are affecting the law and order situation in the state,” Kadam said.

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