Cops continue hunt for suspects as CCTV footage provides little clues
The Mumbai police investigating the recovery of 20 gelatin sticks from a Scorpio car near Antilia, the residence of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, said on Sunday that it was proving difficult to identify the driver of the Innova car that was following the Scorpio near the industry leader’s house because the driver wore a faceshield.
In CCTV footage recovered from various places in the city, including the Mulund toll barrier where the Innova was seen heading towards Thane at 3.05am on February 25, the face of the driver is unrecognizable because of reflection caused by headlights of oncoming cars and streetlights on the faceshield, a police officer said.
But there is other technical evidence being investigated by police and the National Investigating Agency (NIA). The first priority is to trace the drivers of both the Innova and Scorpio cars, said the officer.
On the afternoon of February 25, the Scorpio was found abandoned on Carmichael Road, around 600 metres away from the Ambani residence. Twenty loose gelatin sticks were found in the car, although there was no timer or detonation device. Police subsequently released details of a letter found in the car, addressed to the Reliance chairman and his wife, claiming this was just “a trailer”. The SUV sported fake plates with the registration number of the lead car in the security convoy deployed for the industrialist’s wife Nita Ambani.
The investigation revealed the Innova joined the Scorpio around 1.40am at Priyadarshani Park and then they together moved towards Antilia. The Scorpio was abandoned near Ambani’s residence at 2.18am while the Innova stopped for hardly a few seconds and moved towards Altamount road. It is assumed that the Scorpio’s driver later sat in the Innova somewhere nearby and escaped, police said.
The Scorpio was stolen on the night of February 17 from Vikhroli. The owner of the SUV is a Thane resident and said his vehicle was parked at a deserted location in Vikroli area as its steering wheel had jammed. The next day he was informed that his car had been stolen. He then registered an FIR at the Vikhroli police station on February 18.
The Innova’s number plate was also fake and police are trying to trace its owner and driver. Several police teams are working on the case. The Innova entered the city on February 25, through the Mulund toll plaza and was captured in the CCTV camera at 1.20am. After almost an hour and 45 minutes, it was seen heading back towards Thane from Mumbai and was captured in the CCTV camera at Mulund toll plaza at 3.05am.
A purported organisation called Jaish-al-Hind, which is unheard of, allegedly claimed responsibility for planting the explosive-laden Scorpio but a senior police officer part of the investigating team said, “There is no such outfit by the name which has been mentioned in the letter. It seems like a prank and an attempt to extort money from the Ambanis”.
The letter has not been received either by Mumbai police or by the Ambanis. Someone created a group by the name Jaish-al-Hind on a social messaging platform and was trying to take advantage, added another police official.