Death of owner of car found near Ambani house fans row
The death of Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the stolen SUV found with explosives and a threat letter outside the residence of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has emerged as a new flashpoint in the ongoing war of words between the state’s MVA government and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
On Saturday, the BJP raised questions over the circumstances surrounding Hiren’s death — he was found dead in a creek, and police were quick to term it possible suicide — and said it would ask the Centre to have the National Investigation Agency (NIA) take over the investigation, citing a possible terror angle. The opposition has also demanded President’s Rule in the state on the grounds of poor law and order.
“The entire country is shaken [because] the person who is among the top 10 richest people in the world is also unsafe (here),” Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, referring to Ambani, who was already granted so-called Z+ category security, among the highest provided.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP MP Narayan Rane said law and order has collapsed in the state and demanded President’s Rule. “The police itself has taken law in their hands... Anybody’s body can be found anywhere. Looking at this, President’s Rule must be imposed in Maharashtra, and I am going to write to Delhi [demanding it].”
The BJP has also targeted police officer Sachin Vaze, who has admitted that he knew Hiren, and who was originally named the investigating officer of the SUV case before it was reassigned.
Vaze, a controversial police officer, was suspended in 2004 after being accused of killing Khwaja Yunus in police custody. He joined the Shiv Sena in 2008 in presence of Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray. He was reinstated in July 2020, months after the Thackeray-led government came to power. He was again in focus when he led the police team that arrested TV news anchor Arnab Goswami.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena, which along with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, makes up the MVA, said the home department should quickly investigate the case. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai on Saturday, Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena said that if the opposition has raised some questions which are important, then they must be investigated. “The person’s death is unfortunate and shocking. People have doubts whether this is a murder or suicide and that doubt needs to be cleared at the earliest.”
The state home department on Saturday issued an order, transferring the case to Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
Watch | Mukesh Ambani threat case: Owner of bomb-laden car found dead; BJP's NIA demand
Meanwhile, the mystery around the death of Hiren continued, with the police refusing to reveal the findings of the post-mortem exam report. The police claimed that the reports are inconclusive and the cause of death will be revealed only after chemical analysis of the samples they have sent to a forensic laboratory. The police officials also claimed there are no major injuries on Hiren’s body and only a few minor abrasions on his face.
The family of the deceased refused to claim his body in the morning unless the police gave them the forensic report. Vinod Hiren, elder brother of the deceased, said: “The police have alleged that my brother died by suicide; however, we know him and he wouldn’t have done this.”
Deputy police commissioner Avinash Ambure met the family and explained the report. “We requested them to let our f family doctors examine the post mortem report suggesting further investigation and then we will take the body,” added Vinod Hiren.