Mumbai: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Anil Shukla, who was spearheading the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the high-profile case involving the Antilia terror scare and the alleged murder of Thane automobile accessories dealer Mansukh Hiren, completed his six-year tenure with the central agency Monday, ThePrint has learnt.
Shukla is now set to return to his parent IPS cadre AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories). His departure comes at a time when the agency is still looking to unravel the entire conspiracy behind the terror scare-Hiren death case, and could hamper the investigation’s continuity, sources familiar with the probe said.
However, other NIA sources stated that Shukla’s return to his parent cadre is a “routine” procedure and another IGP-level officer will soon replace him to complete the investigation in the case.
Shukla is an IPS officer of the 1996 batch. Union Home Ministry sources said G.K. Verma, an IPS officer of the 2001 batch, will replace Shukla.
The NIA suspects suspended Mumbai Assistant Police Inspector (API) Sachin Waze’s involvement in the Antilia-Hiren case and arrested him on 13 March. The agency has also arrested another Mumbai policeman, API Riyaz Qazi, also suspended, who was part of Waze’s team in the Mumbai Crime Branch’s intelligence collection agency, the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU).
Besides the two, the NIA has taken into custody a former policeman and a cricket bookie who were earlier arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
Hiren was allegedly an acquaintance of Waze. On 17 February, he made a complaint to Vikhroli police that his SUV had gone missing from Mulund. On 25 February, the same SUV — laden with 20 sticks of an industrial explosive, gelatin — was recovered by police near Antilia, the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
Over a week later, on 5 March, Hiren’s body, a face mask on his mouth, was recovered from the Mumbra creek, Thane.
The two cases were handed over to the ATS on 7 March. On the orders of the central government, the NIA took over the investigation of the terror scare and the Hiren death cases on 8 March and 20 March, respectively.
Speaking about Shukla, a source in the NIA said it would have been better to maintain “continuity” in the leadership of the team probing the case.
“The NIA is engaged in the probe to reach all those who had been involved in the crimes related to the Hiren death case and the terror scare case. A lot of work remains to be done and continuity in those who lead the probe would have been better,” the source said.
However, a second source noted that the IGP is returning to his tenure in keeping with “routine procedures”.
“As per the IPS tenure policy, an IPS officer is usually deputed to a central organisation, including NIA, for five years. Thereafter, if the officer seeks (an extension), and his/her parent cadre and the agency concerned agree, the tenure can be extended twice, for one year at a time,” said an agency source. “So, the tenure cannot be more than seven years ideally.”
According to the source, Shukla has already completed six years in the NIA, “where he was part of several high-profile investigations, and he did not request for another extension”. “His tenure ended on 12 April,” the source said.
Edited by Sunanda Ranjan
This report has been updated to clarify that the NIA took over the two investigations — the Antilia bomb scare and the Mansukh Hiren death cases — on different dates