New Delhi: A Scorpio vehicle, laden with explosives that had 20 gelatin sticks and a threat-note, found near Mukesh Ambani’s South Mumbai house — Antilia — on 25 February has created a lot of buzz. The SUV was traced back to an auto parts dealer, Mansukh Hiren, a Thane resident who was found dead on 5 March.
In episode 701 of ‘Cut the Clutter’, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta tried to unravel and join the jumbled threads — 20 gelatin sticks in the Scorpio, and the death of the car’s owner who was allegedly was in touch with controversial Mumbai Police Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze.
According to the Mumbai Police, the Telegram channel, through which an organisation named Jaish-ul-Hind claimed responsibility for the explosives-laden SUV, was created in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. The message also demanded payment in cryptocurrency and mentioned a link where the deposit could be made.
However, a statement, purportedly released by Jaish-ul-Hind, later denied its role in the incident.
“Nobody as yet knows that there is an organisation called Jaish-ul-Hind,” Gupta said.
Mumbai Police sources have claimed that they found information about the Telegram channel being allegedly created in Tihar jail through a private investigation agency they had engaged.
Twist in the tale — a murky death & a sharpshooter
The owner of the Scorpio, Mansukh Hiren, was questioned by the Mumbai Police for a couple of days after the incident. He told the police that he was driving this car from Thane to Mumbai on 17 February when it broke down near Mulund toll naka, after which he parked the car there and returned to the city in an Ola taxi.
Hiren also told the police that when he went to look for the car the following day, it was missing, after which he registered a missing car report.
“Would someone who runs a motor workshop, leave his or her car overnight in Mumbai?’’ Gupta asked. “Even an ordinary person won’t do it, at least not without precautions. This story doesn’t gel.”
When Hiren left home on 4 March, his wife Vimla thought he went to meet his friends in the Mumbai Police, especially Mumbai Police officer and well-known encounter cop, Sachin Waze.
“About 60 encounters were credited to Waze some 20 years back. After the Ghatkopar bombing in 2002 December, four persons were arrested by a team led by Waze. Of the four arrested, Khwaja Yunus disappeared,” Gupta said.
“The story was that these four were taken by a group of policemen, with Waze in the lead, to Aurangabad. On the way, Yunus escaped and he was later presumed dead. An inquiry was ordered because the other three said they had found him stripped and badly thrashed in police custody, which led to the suspension of Waze for 16 years. During this period, Waze joined Shiv Sena,” Gupta explained.
The Shiv Sena reinstated him after they came to power, claiming that the Covid-19 pandemic required more hands on the deck.
Hiren’s body was found floating in the Kalwa creek, near Reti Bandar on 5 March, with a cloth mask around his mouth. 5-6 handkerchiefs stuffed in his mouth.
He had also, purportedly, written a letter, dated 2 March, to the Maharashtra chief minister and home minister alleging he was being harassed by the police and the media.
“Why would anyone killing himself keep a mask on?” Gupta said.
The post mortem showed four abrasions on his face. It also revealed a foul-smelling blood-tinged fluid coming out of his nostrils. Forensic experts say the autopsy doesn’t establish if the cause of death is drowning — a diatom test needs to be conducted to draw a conclusion. The autopsy report also does not mention the presence of sand or earth in the nails or on the skin and feet, to establish drowning.
On 4 March, after he had left home, Hiren’s son called him around 11 pm but nobody answered. Investigations revealed that both his phones were switched on and off — one in Vasai-Virar — 40 km from Thane and the other at Tungareshwar — 10 km further away.
“This now looks like somebody has created a series of red herrings so that the body and evidence isn’t found in time,” Gupta said.
Shiv Sena’s favorite — Waze
Sachin Waze was prominently seen during the arrest of Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami.
“He was Shiv Sena’s favourite. He was a party man, and was taken back even after being under investigation. Waze had every key case of Mumbai that made national headlines — raid on hookah parlours, he headed the case on celebrities who had fake social media followers, he was handling the Anvay Naik suicide case,” Gupta said.
He added that the case of the explosive-laden car has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency. Hiren’s death is being investigated by the ATS, Mumbai Police (Anti- Terrorism Squad), and Waze has been taken off the case.
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