A person hailing from Aurangabad has claimed that the number plate that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had recovered yesterday from River Mithi in Mumbai in connection with the probe of Mansukh Hiren’s death case belongs to him.
Vijay Nade, the claimant from Aurangabad, claimed that his car was stolen from Uddhavrao Patil Chowk in Aurangabad after the registration number was made public. He had registered a complaint about the theft of his car at the Chowk Police Station.
“My car with the number MH 20 FP 1539 T was stolen on 16 November 2020, and an FIR was filed. I have a copy of the same. For three months, there was no information but yesterday, I was informed about it,” the Aurangabad man said.
The NIA had yesterday taken suspended Mumbai Police crime branch officer Sachin Vaze to the bridge over the Mithi river in connection with the probe of Mansukh Hiren’s death case.
The NIA divers had recovered computer CPUs, two number plates carrying the same registration number, and other items from the river in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex.
Hiren, the owner of the vehicle that was found containing explosives materials outside the house of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, was found dead on March 5 in Thane. Investigation into his death was being probed by Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), till the MHA handed over the probe to the NIA.
Vaze, an assistant police inspector in the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) who was in charge of the Hiren case, was in NIA custody till 25 March for his alleged role and involvement in placing the explosives-laden vehicle outside the residence of Ambani.
Last week, the NIA recovered a cache of live ammunition from Vaze’s house too. It comprised 62 bullets. The agency said that Vaze could explain only five of the 30 issued for his service weapon.
Sleuths investigating the case said Vaze and Hiren met on 17 February, the day the keys to the SUV that Hiren subsequently said had been stolen were exchanged. He made the claim to Vaze during the initial phase of the inquiry into the terror threat near Mukesh Ambani’s house Antilia, but made no mention of their meeting.
The police recovered the Scorpio car subsequently less than 2 km from Antilla on 4 March, with 20 gelatin sticks and a handwritten letter to the Reliance chairman and his wife, Nita Ambani, inside.
On 24 March, the NIA said Vaze and the other accused would be charged under anti-terror law UAPA. Sources said the presence and quantity of explosives indicated terrorist action.