Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze, arrested in the probe into recovery of explosives from
a car near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence, was on Sunday remanded to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody till March 25 by a court in Mumbai.
The NIA, which arrested Vaze (49) on Saturday night, brought him to the court in south Mumbai after taking him to a local hospital for his medical examination, an official said. The court remanded him to the central agency's custody for further probe in the matter, he said.
Who is Sachin Vaze?
-Sachin Vaze is a 49-year-old Assistant Police Inspector serving in the Mumbai police department.
- Sachin is one of the encounter specialists in the Mumbai police force
-He is a 1990-batch officer of the state cadre, who was suspended in 2004 over his role in the custodial death of a 2002 Ghatkopar blast suspect Khwaja Yunus
- He rejoined the police force last year after a long-16-years hiatus.
-Sachin Vaze led the team that arrested journalist Arnab Goswami in November last year in a suicide abetment case
-He joined Shiv Sena while he was under suspension. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently acknowledged that Vaze was a member of Shiv Sena till 2008.
-He is also facing a trial on multiple charges, including murder and destruction of evidence, for the alleged custodial death of Khwaja Yunus in the year 2003.
When and why was he arrested?
According to police, Sachin was arrested for his alleged role in placing gelatin sticks in the SUV that was found parked near Ambani's multi-storey residence 'Antilia' on February 25 and that when he was questioned about it, he admitted his involvement.
On Saturday, the National Investigation Agency called Sachin Vaze around 11.30 am at their Mumbai office situated at Cumballa Hill in south Mumbai to record his statement.
After an interrogation of 12 hours, Vaze was arrested by the NIA officials
The development in the Antilia probe so far:
On February 25, a Scorpio was found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house in south Mumbai with explosives, gelatin sticks and a threat letter inside. All evidence found has been sent for forensic testing. The NIA is currently probing the case.
The Ambani bomb scare case was handed over to the NIA after the mysterious death of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran, who claimed that the vehicle had been stolen a week earlier. His body was found in a creek at Thane on March 5.
Hiran's wife had claimed that her husband had given the SUV to Vaze in November, which the officer returned in the first week of February.
However, during his questioning by the ATS, Vaze had denied using the SUV that was in possession of Hiran.
Why the Shiv Sena accused NIA of "insulting Mumbai Police"
The Shiv Sena on Monday said the arrest of Mumbai police officer Sachin Vaze by the NIA over the recovery of explosives from a car near industrialist
Mukesh Ambani's residence was an "insult" of the Maharashtra Police, and alleged that it was being done deliberately.
An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said, If Vaze was guilty in the case, the Mumbai police and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) were capable of taking action against him, it said.
But, the central probe agency (NIA) did not want that to happen
It alleged that since Vaze had arrested journalist Arnab Goswami in the Anvay Naik suicide case, he was on the "hit-list of the BJP and the Centre".
"Vaze's arrest by the NIA was an insult of the state police and was being done deliberately. Those expressing happiness over this are hurting the state's autonomy," the editorial alleged.
It expressed hope that the truth will come out soon.
The editorial also said the state government had handed over the probe into the recovery of the explosives-laden vehicle and the death of Mansukh Hiran to the ATS. But, the central government deputed the NIA in the explosives case.
Meanwhile, Vaze's lawyer has rubbished all claims and said there is no concrete proof that cites his involvement in the case.
Here's what Sachin's defence lawyers are saying:
Vaze's advocate Sudeep Pasbola, however, said the arrest has been made only on the basis of suspicion and that there was no concrete evidence against him.
"The court remanded Vaze till March 25 but kept the matter for further hearing on Monday. The court has asked the NIA to show what evidence it has collected and what is the stage of the investigation," Pasbola said.
Another defence lawyer, Sunny Punamia, submitted before the court that Vaze's arrest was "completely illegal".
"The argument placed before the court was that the accused has been arrested solely based on suspicion and no prima facie case is established in the FIR.
"Therefore, if no prima facie case is established on a bare reading of the FIR against the accused, the detainment and arrest of the accused itself is completely illegal and even one day's incarceration of the accused would be violative of his constitutional rights," he said.