Mumbai: Fourteen ‘benami’ SIM cards, five cars, fake number plates — including a duplicate of a Range Rover part of Nita Ambani’s security detail — ammunition through sources from a Nagpur-based company, a booking under a fake identity at Hotel Oberoi, destruction of surveillance video recordings, and an attempt at an alibi.
This is a summary of the tedious planning put in place by Sachin Waze, now dismissed from the Mumbai Police, for what the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said was his attempt to “re-establish himself as a super cop” and “regain his lost glory”.
The details are part of the NIA’s charge sheet against Waze, a former Mumbai Police sharpshooter, and nine others, including fellow former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, in its investigation into the recovery of explosives outside industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s home, Antilia, and the alleged killing of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran.
The investigating agency filed the charge sheet, accessed by ThePrint, in a Mumbai court last week.
According to the NIA, Waze was the key conspirator who procured the explosives, arranged for the car in which the gelatine sticks were found, and planted the car on Carmichael Road in South Mumbai with a threat note on 25 February.
Subsequently, terror outfit Jaish ul Hind purportedly sent a Telegram message claiming responsibility, but later sent a similar message denying having anything to do with the incident.
“Through extortion he (Waze) was collecting huge amounts of money part of which was used for the commission of instant crime… The wordings in the threat note “agle baar connect hokar aayega” (next time the explosives will be connected) clearly depicts the intention of Waze for furtherance of the terrorist acts to re-establish himself as a super cop by staging a fake encounter so as to regain his lost glory,” said the NIA in its charge sheet.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the demand for ransom made to the Ambani family in threat letter posted on Telegram to avoid dire consequences, clearly depicts the motive of Waze for huge monetary gains from the entire conspiracy.”
Waze, who was suspended in 2004 on charges of murder and destroying evidence in the Khwaja Yunus custodial death case, was reinstated in the Mumbai Police in 2020 as Assistant Police Inspector, and posted to the elite Crime Branch as the head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU). He was at the helm of several high-profile investigations, including the alleged fudging of Television Rating Points involving Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami.
He was suspended a second time following his arrest in the Antilia case in March and was dismissed from service in May. He also became the investigating officer in the Antilia case when it was transferred to the Crime Branch, before it being handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad. Eventually, the NIA took over the investigation.
Hotel stay with forged documents, 5 cars and fake number plates
The NIA charge sheet said Waze had booked himself into Hotel Oberoi for 100 nights under an alias, Sushant Khamkar, using a forged Aadhaar card. He stayed there from 16 to 20 February this year, because he thought it would be a safe place for planning and implementing the conspiracy.
The same month, Waze identified a green Mahindra Scorpio, which was with his acquaintance Hiran, for his mission. Waze and his staff at the CIU had frequently used this car and was, according to the NIA, aware that it belonged to one Sam Newton who had given it to Hiran to make good some pending dues.
Waze, the charge sheet said, asked Hiran to abandon the car on Eastern Express Highway from where he picked it up with the help of his personal driver and parked it in the lane adjoining his house in Thane. The charge sheet said he then advised Hiran to file a complaint for a missing car.
Overall, according to the charge sheet, the entire conspiracy, including the alleged murder of Hiran, involved five cars — the Scorpio, a white Toyota Innova that was part of the CIU’s fleet of cars, a red Chevrolet Tavera and a Volkswagen Polo used during Hiran’s alleged killing, and Waze’s black Mercedes that he travelled in while creating himself an alibi by raiding one Tipsy Bar at Dongri the day Hiran died.
Waze and other co-accused, the charge sheet said, arranged for fake number plates for most cars, including a duplicate number plate of a Range Rover, registered in the name of Reliance Industries, and used as a convoy car for the security of Mukesh Ambani’s wife, Nita. According to the NIA, Waze deliberately chose this number “to create an enormous impact of the crime”.
The charge sheet added that Waze arranged for ammunition from the Nagpur-based Solar Industries India Ltd, which manufactures explosives and explosive-initiating devices.
Waze destroyed the clothes that he was wearing while placing the Scorpio at Carmichael Road and also took hold of the shirt that the witness accompanying him was wearing. Next, he destroyed his own mobile phone and altered the prominent features of the white Innova that could be seen in surveillance footage, according to the charge sheet.
The cop destroyed the vehicle entry register maintained at the CP office pertaining to the few days leading up to 1 March, to hide the movement of cars, but did not tamper with the CCTV footage at the gate of the CP office, which confirmed Waze’s movement as well as the movement of vehicles, the charge sheet said.
Tracing CCTVs, dumping footage in river, hatching Hiran’s murder
Naresh Gor, the second accused in the case, procured a total of 14 SIM cards under false identities for the conspiracy. Five of these were handed over to Waze through Vinayak Shinde, an accused police constable now dismissed from service. Three of the SIM cards were recovered from Waze’s office during the investigation.
“He (Waze) procured benami Sim cards through Naresh Gor and Chinese mobile handsets without IMEI numbers so as to conceal his real identity and used such Sim cards and mobile phones for communication while planning and executing the murder of Mansukh,” the charge sheet said.
It added that Waze “surveyed whole area around his whereabouts” and got hold of digital video records, often illegally, and had them destroyed and dumped in Mumbai’s infamous Mithi river.
According to the NIA, Waze feared that the case was going to be transferred to a senior officer, when he asked Hiran to take responsibility for the entire conspiracy, assuring him he will be bailed out. Hiran declined, which prompted Waze to reach out to Pradeep Sharma for help to allegedly kill Hiran, seeing him as a “weak link”.
Simultaneously, Waze was preparing ground to establish Hiran as mentally stressed and capable of suicide.
“Through his acquaintances in the field of journalism Waze had attempted to spread the news of Mansukh having committed suicide and had planned for the same in advance by attempting to get Mansukh Hiran interviewed through a journalist friend prior to the death of Mansukh Hiran,” the charge sheet said.
On 3 March, Waze met Sharma in Mumbai’s western suburb of Andheri handing over a bag with a lot of cash in Rs 500 denomination. The NIA said Sharma used this cash to pay Santosh Shelar and his accomplices for killing Hiran, and also helped them be on the run in Delhi and Nepal after Hiran’s death.
Waze and Sharma also arranged for a one-way ticket to Dubai for co-accused Manish Soni, who helped in Hiran’s killing.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.