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Footage tampering, fake number plates, petrol & hammer — why NIA arrested Waze’s aide Qazi

API Riyaz Qazi worked under arrested cop Sachin Waze at Mumbai Police’s CIU, and was questioned many times over his role in ‘destroying’ evidence in the Antilia bomb scare case.

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Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Sunday arrested a second Mumbai Police officer within a month  — Assistant Police Inspector (API) Riyaz Qazi — for allegedly assisting his former Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) boss Sachin Waze, who was arrested in March for his alleged role in the bomb scare at Mukesh Ambani’s house ‘Antilia’.

A special NIA court Sunday remanded Qazi to the agency’s custody till 16 April.

The NIA has accused Qazi of working at Waze’s behest to destroy evidence, and the agency will verify the allegations by interrogating the former in custody, sources said.

Waze, also an API, was heading the CIU until his arrest by the NIA on 13 March, and Qazi was a member of his core team, sources told ThePrint. Qazi is suspected to have been part of Waze’s alleged attempts to “tamper/destroy details with evidentiary value”, which could have exposed the latter’s alleged role in placing an explosives-laden Scorpio SUV near Mukesh Ambani’s residence in south Mumbai on 25 February, the sources added.

The NIA is gathering evidence on who procured the explosives (20 sticks of industrial explosive gelatin) that were planted near Antilia and had used a bunch of mobile phone numbers and IP addresses that are allegedly linked to the case.

Qazi, meanwhile, has denied the allegations against him, and claimed he was not involved in any crime and had cooperated with the NIA probe.


Also read: Interrogating a tough Mumbai cop: How NIA is struggling to ‘break’ Sachin Waze


What led to the arrests

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had, on 25 February, tracked the Scorpio to its last owner, Mansukh Hiren, a Thane-based automobile accessories dealer, even though the vehicle’s chassis number had supposedly been removed by those who had placed it in front of Antilia, in order to evade detection.

The Waze-led CIU probed the Antilia case until Hiren’s body was recovered from Mumbra creek on 5 March. But then, the bomb scare case as well the probe into Hiren’s death were transferred to the ATS, which the Centre then handed over to the NIA.

Waze was transferred to the Citizen Facilitation Centre at Mumbai Police Headquarters, and was later suspended, arrested, and sent to NIA custody till 25 March. On 9 April, Waze was produced before a special NIA court that sent him to judicial custody till 23 April.

Meanwhile, Qazi, who was interrogated by the NIA multiple times to verify his role, was shunted from the CIU to the Local Arms Division on 24 March by the police department.

Since taking over the case, the NIA has recorded the statements of more than 40 people, including former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh and two deputy commissioners as well as a dozen cops from the CIU.

Qazi’s alleged role

A source familiar with the NIA’s probe said: “Qazi’s role was probed in the procurement of the digital video recorder of the Thane-based housing society of Waze, and it was suspected that there was an attempt to tamper with the CCTV footage.

The investigating agencies suspected that the Scorpio might have been hidden in the compound of the housing society by Waze, and that there was an attempt to destroy the CCTV evidence, sources said.

The probe also brought to light Qazi’s alleged role in helping Waze procure fake number plates for various cars used by the latter that are under the scanner in the case. “CCTV footage from a suburban garage was collected while examining Qazi’s role in providing help to Waze in collecting fake number plates,” a source said.

Sources said that Qazi and Waze were also under the scanner for allegedly acquiring “petrol and a hammer” for potential use in destroying materials with evidentiary value, such as computer tools, among others.

This report has been updated to reflect that Riyaz Qazi was arrested for allegedly acquiring petrol, not kerosene.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)


Also read: Param Bir Singh moved out 2 senior cops to bring Waze into intelligence unit: Police report


 

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