Explosive, threat letter found in a car near Ambani house in Mumbai
Parts of south Mumbai were on alert on Thursday evening after an abandoned sport utility vehicle (SUV) with explosive material was found parked around 600 metres from the house of Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani on Pedder Road. The police, however, clarified that the material found was not an assembled explosive device.
Police sources said that around 20 gelatin sticks were found in the vehicle, which was also clamped by the traffic police as it was parked illegally. The number plate of the car was allegedly fake, and according to police, several other number plates were found inside the vehicle.
A threat letter has also been discovered, however, police have not shared the details of its content.
The car was suspiciously abandoned on Carmichael Road the previous night. After the police control room was informed about it on Thursday afternoon, police rushed to the spot and were soon joined by the bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS).
“Two explosive detector labrador dogs of BDDS – Oscar and Moti – detected suspicious explosives and alerted their handlers. The bomb squad personnel were then called in and scanned the articles found in the vehicle. They identified these as gelatin. The material was taken out and moved to a safe place, following standard procedures. In all, 20 gelatin sticks were found,” said a police officer.
Police sources said the car’s driver had used the same registration number as a car driven by security personnel of Ambani and owned by Reliance Industries Limited.
The person who parked the car at 1am on Thursday, has been captured on CCTV of a nearby Vijay general store. Police have already collected the CCTV footage and will enhance its quality to identify the suspect.
“I opened my shop at 8am. In the afternoon around 2pm, when I was going to have lunch, I saw police standing and checking the vehicle. Police inquired with me about the CCTV camera I have installed outside my shop,” said Rajesh Singh, 45, the owner of the store.
“Police then checked the footage and found that two vehicles were seen coming around 1am from Pedder Road and heading towards Altamount Road. One car did not stop but the driver of the other vehicle stopped and parked opposite my shop, in front of Shikhar Kunj building. After checking the footage, it was found that the driver was clearly seen sitting inside the vehicle. He did not come out at least two hours,” said Singh, adding that the police took the DVR for further investigation.
“A suspicious vehicle was found on Carmichael Road today (Thursday) evening under the limits of Gamdevi police station. The police were alerted. The BDDS team and other police teams reached the spot immediately, examined the vehicle and found some explosive material (gelatin) inside. It is not an assembled explosive device. Further investigation is going on,” said Chaitanya Siriprolu, Mumbai Police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police.
“A letter has been found inside the said vehicle. The registration number displayed on the said vehicle matches the registration number of a vehicle in Mukesh Ambani’s security detail. The said vehicle has been seized by police for investigation,” Siriprolu added.
Later, state home minister Anil Deshmukh released a video statement and confirmed that a car with gelatin sticks was found near Ambani’s house.
Minister of state for home Shambhuraj Desai said, “[The matter] has been taken very seriously, and the police will unearth the plot and nab the people behind it. Since the investigation is underway, it would not be appropriate to speak more on it. If the need arises, there will be additional security cover given to the Ambani family.”
After detection of the explosives, the Mumbai Police force, anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and other intelligence and security personnel involved in anti-terrorism operations swung into action. Senior crime branch and ATS officers visited the spot along with a team of forensic experts.
Following the incident, a city-wide alert was sounded, and security was stepped up around important establishments, especially in south Mumbai. Checking was increased at entry and exit points of the city.
At the time of going to press, the police were in the process of registering a case under the Explosives Act.
No statement has been issued by Reliance yet.
(With inputs from Surendra Gangan)