The police on Monday arrested two employees of Air Works - Uday Manohar Warekar (32) and Palraj Ganpati Thever (38) - for attempting to sabotage the Anil Ambani-owned helicopter, which their employer was in charge of maintaining.
Pebbles and gravels were found in the Bell 412 helicopter’s gearbox on April 23 by senior Air Works technician Bharat Borge, who reported the incident. He was found dead a few days later.
On Monday, HT reported that the police had detained two Airworks helpers for questioning. Rakesh Maria, joint commissioner of police said the duo was arrested on Sunday. “Their intention was to damage the aircraft,” Maria said. He ruled out corporate rivalry as a motive.
“The mastermind behind the sabotage is still to be arrested,” a senior crime branch official said, requesting anonymity. The police had also detained and questioned a former Air Works staffer on Sunday.
The sabotage attempt, the police said, was the result of a 14-year dispute between Air Works management and the union of the 52 non-technical staff (Maharashtra General Kamgar Mahasangh). “As the aircraft belonged to the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, they thought if anything went wrong, it would create an impact and solve their problem,” Maria said. “Warekar dropped the pebbles into the gearbox, Thever helped him.”
The police have invoked the stringent Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act of 1982, which entails life imprisonment if the duo is found guilty. Both have been remanded in police custody till May 15. Maria said the duo was involved in two of the four sabotage bids reported at Air Works since August 2008, but no arrests had been made in connection with the earlier incidents.
Borge had hinted at the duo’s involvement, the police said. Investigations into the death of the senior technician, who was found on the railway tracks at Vile Parle, are going on. Police said he had a suicide note in his pocket.