Hiran case: Maha ATS arrests cop, bookie; says Waze main accused
Mumbai: In a "major breakthrough", the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested a policeman and a bookie in connection with the alleged murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, an official said on Sunday, adding Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze had played a key role in the crime and emerged as the prime accused.
The accused duo, identified as policeman Vinayak Shinde and bookie Naresh Gaur, were arrested on Saturday late night, he said.
Earlier in the day, the official had given the name of the bookie as Naresh Dhare, but later said it was Naresh Gaur.
Shinde is a convict in the 2006 Lakhan Bhaiya fake encounter case and he came out from jail on furlough last year, he said, adding that Shinde had been in touch with Waze since then.
Waze is currently in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is probing the recovery of an explosives-laden vehicle which was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's multi-storey residence 'Antilia' in south Mumbai on February 25. The vehicle was in possession of Hiran before his body was found in a creek near Thane on March 5. The Union Home Ministry on Saturday handed over the Hiran murder case to the NIA.
"Sachin Waze is a prime accused in the Hiran murder case. He had played a key role. During the probe, the ATS found that Gaur had provided five SIM cards to API Waze and Shinde for the crime. Shinde used to help Waze in his illegal activities," the official said.
He said the ATS was investigating if more people were involved in the case and what role they had played.
"The ATS is probing who was the main conspirator (in Hiran murder case)," he added.
"Both the accused were on Saturday called to the ATS headquarters for questioning in connection with the case and later placed under arrest," he added.
"The state ATS has so far interrogated several people, including police officials and the family members of the deceased. The arrest of these two persons is a major breakthrough in the case," the official said.
The ATS had earlier registered a case under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) against unidentified persons in connection with Hiran's death.
Meanwhile, the BJP said that Waze could be one of pawns in the "entire game".
"Sachin Waze, Param Bir Singh (former Mumbai police commissioner) and (state Home Minister) Anil Deshmukh perhaps are only pawns in the entire game. Real power (s) behind them need to be investigated along with their motives. Once Waze starts speaking in the NIA interrogation, more skeletons will tumble out from the government's closet," Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said in a statement on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, MNS chief Raj Thackeray sought the Centre's intervention in unearthing the truth behind the explosives-laden car that was found near Ambani's residence.
Addressing a press conference, Thackeray alleged that the Maharashtra government failed to shed light on several basic points in the case.
"The explosives case doesn't revolve only around Param Bir Singh and Sachin Waze. Police placing the explosives or being asked to do so is not a small thing," he said.