The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the case of a vehicle laden with explosives being found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in Mumbai, an official spokesperson said on Monday.
The NIA took over the case following orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs, he said.
The agency is in the process of re-registering the case, the spokesperson added.
The Scorpio, with 20 gelatin sticks inside, was found near Ambani's high-rise south Mumbai home on February 25. Police had said the vehicle was stolen from Airoli-Mulund Bridge on February 18.
Hiren Mansukh, the owner of the vehicle, was found dead in a creek in Thane on Friday. Questions are being raised on the circumstances around Hiren’s death and his links with the investigating officers. Here are five such questions:
Did Mansukh Hiren Die by Suicide or Was It Something Else?
On the morning of Friday, 5 March, Mansukh Hiren’s body was found near Kalwa creek in Thane at around 10:25 am. Fadnavis has alleged that Hiren's hands were found tied after the body was removed from the creek. A video of the incident has surfaced, in which a handkerchief can be seen being removed from Hiren's mouth.
Moreover, his mobile was not found with him. Despite these claims, why have the local police registered an Accidental Death Report (ADR) and termed his death suicide?
Why Were the Investigation Officers Changed?
Fadnavis raised the matter in the Assembly a few hours before the news of Mansukh Hiren's death. Fadnavis alleged that the investigating officer in the Ambani bomb threat case, Sachin Waze, and the deceased had telephonic conversations in June and July 2020. Hiren left his car in Vikhroli and went to meet someone at the Mumbai Police Commissioner's office in an Ola cab. He also claimed that Waze was the first to reach the scene after the news of explosives found outside Ambani's house was reported. He further alleged that Waze issued the letter of threat that was found in the Scorpio outside Ambani’s house.
Fadnavis questioned the government about the “sudden” removal of Waze from the investigation a few days ago.
Waze has been an encounter specialist and was suspended 12 years ago in the Khwaja Younis death case. He had joined the Shiv Sena after the suspension.
Waze was reinstated in the Mumbai Crime Branch Unit after Uddhav Thackeray's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government came into power. Since then, Waze has been investigating high profile cases such as the Anvay Naik suicide case involving Arnab Goswami, the TRP scam, and the famous car designer Dilip Chhabria fraud case.
Which Police Officer Did Hiren Go to See?
Hiren’s wife Vimala Hiren told the media that he was fully cooperating in the investigation of the case. On 4 March, after receiving a call from a police officer named Tawde from the Kandivali police station, Hiren went out to meet him on Ghodbunder Road, but his mobile phone was switched off after some time.
When he didn’t return till late that night, the family reached out to Naopada police station to lodge a missing person’s complaint. But they were asked to wait till 5 March.
The Hiren family claims that they didn’t think Mansukh was having suicidal thoughts, and that he was a good swimmer. According to reports, the relatives have also refused to take the body till the post-mortem report is out. The family is demanding a high-level inquiry into the matter.
Who Was Threatening Hiren?
A letter going around in news reports claims to have been written by the deceased to CM Uddhav Thackeray, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, and Mumbai and Thane Police Commissioner. Now, Hiren's brother has also confirmed that the letter was written by Hiren. In the letter, he had asked the CM and the police for protection.
Although the police have not confirmed the existence of this letter, Hiren’s family is saying that if he wrote the letter, then why did he feel he was in danger and from whom?
Who Was Investigating the Case?
In the letter purportedly written by him, Hiren has mentioned how he was disturbed by the investigation being done by different police stations and agencies. According to the letter, on 25 February, ATS officials came to his house and informed him about this matter and asked him questions. He was kept at the Vikhroli police station on 26 February from 2 am to 6 am, following which he also received a call from Ghatkopar Police Station for questioning. On 27 February, he was called to the ATS office in Nagpada. He was also questioned by Waze at the crime branch. The NIA officials also called him for investigation.
Finally, a reporter also called him and told him that he was a suspect in the Ambani bomb scare case. It is further written that he was treated like the accused without knowing anything about the incident. Along with him, his family was also being affected, he purportedly wrote in the letter.
So the question is, how many stations and agencies are investigating this one case and why?
Hiren's car went missing on 18 February, following which he lodged a complaint about it. His car was then found in front of Ambani's house on 25 February.
So, what did the police do to find the car between 18 and 25 February?
Hiren's car went missing in Vikhroli, so how did he reach Ambani's home in South Mumbai? Who brought it there?
Perhaps, if we find the answer to this question, then the mystery around Hiren’s death will also be clear.
(With inputs from The Quint and PTI)