Sachin Vaze, ‘encounter specialist’ with Mumbai Police, arrested by the NIA for his alleged role in the bomb scare near Mukesh Ambani’s residence

Published : March 15, 2021 11:08 IST

Sachin Vaze (second from left) being taken to a court by the NIA on March 14. Photo: MITESH BHUVAD/PTI

Sachin Vaze, Assistant Police Inspector of the Maharashtra Police, has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly being part of a conspiracy that involved placing explosives in a car that was found near Antilia, Mukesh Ambani’s residence, a few weeks ago. Vaze, a well-known encounter specialist with the Mumbai Police, has a controversial past and his proximity to the ruling Shiv Sena is not a secret. The arrest, therefore, is being viewed as yet another needling tactic by the Central government to get the Shiv Sena on the back foot. Vaze was the investigator in the TRP case involving Arnab Goswami, editor of Republic TV, and the Anvay Naik suicide case in which Goswami was charged.

Following the killing of Mansukh Hiran, a businessman who owned the car that was found abandoned with gelatin sticks near the Ambani residence, Vaze came under scrutiny as he had borrowed the vehicle from Hiran for four months. Vaze was transferred from the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) to the Citizens Facilitation Centre in Mumbai soon after his link to Hiran emerged. The Maharashtra Home Ministry had asked the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to probe Vaze. The ATS had begun an investigation into the suspicious death of Hiran and into the theft of the vehicle which was found with the explosives.

On March 12, the NIA stepped in and reportedly interrogated Vaze for 12 hours. The next day, the agency arrested the infamous encounter specialist for his role in placing explosives in the car found near the Ambani mansion.

Before the NIA interrogation, Vaze had applied for anticipatory bail, claiming the agency was on a witch-hunt and its allegations were baseless. In 2004, Vaze was suspended from the police force in the Khwaja Yunis killing case. He resigned from service in 2007. In 2008, he joined the Sena for a short period. Vaze was brought back to service in June 2020 to help handle the COVID-19 lockdown.

When Devendra Fadnavis, Opposition Leader from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded an investigation into the role of Vaze in the incident, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “Sachin Vaze is not Osama Bin Laden. It is not right to target a person and hang him and then investigate.” Sanjay Raut, Sena leader, told the media that it was unnecessary for the NIA to get involved when the State had committed itself to probing the crime. Fadnavis has accused the Sena of protecting Vaze and has asked for a narco-analysis test done on the police officer.