Can Sachin Vaze, destabilise Shiv Sena government?

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Sachin Vaze was in denial mode when NIA was probing the case. He was frequently changing his statements but finally surrendered to the pressure by accepting his involvement in the crime. Vaze was arrested by the central agency after questioning him for nearly 12 hours. He was the lead investigator in the explosives case before it was transferred to the Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and later to the NIA.

Vaze, an assistant police inspector, was placed under arrest minutes before Saturday midnight by an NIA team led by Inspector General (IG) Anil Shukla at the agency’s Mumbai office. Vaze was very much non-cooperative and adamant on his stand.

The APS has been arrested under Sections 286 (Negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (Punishment for forgery), 473 (Making or possessing counterfeit seal), 506(2) (criminal intimidation), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code and 4(a)(b)(I) (attempt to cause an explosion) of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

During his tenure as the head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai crime branch, Vaze was handling all high-profile cases, including the TRP rigging scam in which he arrested a total of 15 accused, including former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta from Pune. There was a political uproar; opposition leaders levied various allegations against him because Vaze was taking on all so-called BJP supporters.

A top NIA official confirmed to the media that Sachin Vaze is part of the group that planted the explosive-laden Scorpio on Carmichael Road (near Antilia) on February 25, adding that he confessed to his role in the entire episode but refused to share more details at this stage. The motive of this crime is yet to be exposed.

A Telegram channel was created by “Jaish-ul-Hind” on February 26 and a message claiming responsibility for parking the vehicle outside Antilia, where Ambani lives with his family, was posted from that channel. Later on, it was revealed that the information was leaked by Vaze himself.

On Saturday, a special cell team of the Delhi Police interrogated Tehsin Akhtar, who is known to be the last chief of the now inactive home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM), as two smartphones were recovered from his barrack in Tihar Jail. One of these phones was reportedly used to send out the message that claimed responsibility for the explosives found outside the industrialist’s house last month.

Hiren’s widow Vimla named Vaze in her statement to the police. She said she suspected the 49-year-old police officer’s role in the matter. She told the investigators the SUV belonged to Dr. Peter Newton, who was known to her husband. Dr. Newton would also be called for interrogations.

The SUV was with Hiren for the past three years and was lent to Vaze in November 2020. The vehicle was dropped off by the police officer’s driver at Hiren’s shop in Thane on February 5 this year. It has been alleged that Vaze was also forcing Hiren to take responsibility for the case and surrender to the police. Sharad Pawar apparently intervened as Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray did not want to take action against the police officer, who had once quit the service and joined the Shiv Sena.

Sachin Vaze was also part of the police team when Alibag police arrived in Mumbai and arrested Republic TV editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami, from his residence in the Lower Parel area in October 2020 in the Anvay Naik suicide case. Vaze also unearthed an inter-state car scam and arrested famous sports car designer Dilip Chhabria on December 28, 2020, after police found that his firm Dilip Chhabria (DC) Designs Pvt Ltd had allegedly availed loans from some non-banking financial companies (NBFC) by posing as customers looking to buy DC sports cars. Police raided his factory in Pune and seized 14 cars and 40 engines in January 2021.

Vaze also recently took over actor Hrithik Roshan’s case against Kangana Ranaut from 2016, involving an exchange of emails between the two, in the cyber police station which was later transferred to the CIU for further inquiry.

Sachin Vaze joined the Maharashtra Police force in 1990 as a sub-inspector. He was first posted in the Gadchiroli, a Naxal-affected area, and in 1992; later he was moved to Thane City Police. Afterward, Vaze came into the Special Squad of the Thane crime branch and started carrying out encounters in the area.

All was going well for Sachin Vaze till 2003. He was media savvy and had his name and photos appearing in newspapers and TV channels. But in 2004, due to his alleged role in the Khwaja Yunus case, he was suspended. He later submitted his resignation in 2007. However, the resignation had not been accepted and hence he could be reinstated.

He is known to be good with technology. In 2010, he started a social networking site called ‘Lai Bhari’. Vaze had also reportedly developed software that can trace the location of people through mobile phones. He has also written two books, one on the Sheena Bora murder case and the other on David Headley, which later turned an approver. Sachin Vaze has also written a book based on the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai named ‘Jinkun Harleli Ladhaai’.