NIA arrests two more in Mansukh Hiran case
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on June 11 arrested two more persons in connection with the Antilia explosives scare case and the subsequent murder of Thane-based auto parts dealer Mansukh Hiran.
The accused have been identified as Santosh Atmaram Shelar and Anand Pandurang Jadhav, both residents of Kurar village in Malad (East), said an NIA officer. The duo is said to be close aides of a former Mumbai Police encounter specialist, but the NIA officer quoted above has refused to divulge the alleged roles played by the two in the Antilia and murder cases.
Several cases of assault and rioting are registered against Shelar at Kurar and other police stations in north Mumbai. An officer said that the agency was on the lookout for him for more than a month. He was nabbed from Latur, while Jadhav was arrested from Mumbai.
Shelar and Jadhav have been remanded in NIA custody till June 21 by the special NIA court in Mumbai.
On February 25, a Mahindra Scorpio was found abandoned near Antilia – the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani – with 20 loose gelatin sticks and a threatening note addressed to the Ambanis.
A case was registered with Gamdevi police station in connection with the incident. On March 5, Hiran – the owner of the SUV – was found dead in a creek near Mumbra, with six handkerchiefs stuffed in his mouth and his face covered by a scarf.
A separate case was then registered with Mumbra police in connection with the murder of the trader.
NIA took over the explosives case on March 8 and the murder case on March 24. NIA subsequently took over both the cases and clubbed them for investigation purposes. The federal agency had previously arrested three Mumbai Police officers – Sachin Vaze, his colleague at the criminal intelligence unit (CIU) of the crime branch Riyazuddin Kazi and inspector Sunil Mane. NIA also arrested former police constable Vinayak More – a life convict in the fake encounter killing of Lakhan Bhaiya – and cricket bookie Naresh Gor, both of whom allegedly helped Vaze to execute the suspected murder.
Vaze was originally in charge of the investigation of the Antilia case, but removed after reports emerged of his links with Hiran, who had reported the SUV stolen on February 17. It subsequently emerged that Vaze had borrowed the SUV in November and returned to Hiran in early February.
To contain the damage, the Maharashtra government transferred the then police commissioner Param Bir Singh. The senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer subsequently wrote a letter to the chief minister, alleging that the then home minister Anil Deshmukh had instructed Vaze and some other Mumbai Police officers to extort ₹100 crore from bars, restaurants and hookah parlours, and when no action was forthcoming, he approached the courts.
The Bombay high court eventually asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary enquiry into the matter, prompting Deshmukh’s resignation. Accordingly, the central agency registered an offence against Deshmukh and some others on April 21.