PTI / Representative / Republicworld.com
In a breaking development in the Vazegate scandal, former Mumbai police officer and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma arrived at the NIA office on Wednesday even as suspended & arrested Mumbai Police API Sachin Vaze is scheduled to be produced at the special NIA court hours later as his current custody ends. Pradeep Sharma was famously a part of the team of encounter specialists that Sachin Vaze was also a part of in 2004. A new entrant into what is presumably the probe into Sachin Vaze, Pradeep Sharma's arrival at the NIA office comes after former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh arrived at the agency to record his statement in the probe into the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren and the Antilia bomb scare case. Param Bir Singh is still at the NIA office at the time of publishing.
Former police officer Pradeep Sharma was a part of Mumbai Police's encounter squad which Sachin Vaze and other officers were also a part of. The former encounter cop quit the Mumbai Police in 2019 after having served for over 30 years following which he joined the Shiv Sena and contested & lost in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections from the Nalasopara constituency. Pradeep Sharma, who was previously suspended from service owing to corruption allegations, was reinstated back into service in 2017 after he was cleared of all charges
Top sources have informed that Param Bir Singh is likely to record his statement with the agency which is probing the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren and the Anitilia bomb scare case. He is likely to be interrogated on the reinstatement of Sachin Vaze in the Mumbai Police force after nearly 16 years out following his suspension due to an alleged fake encounter case, the fact that Sachin Vaze worked under and reported to Param Bir, and on how a growing number of luxury cars linked to Sachin Vaze were seen parked at the Mumbai CP's premises, and whether or not he was aware of this.
A top-secret report by a Mumbai top-cop on the working relationship and modus-operandi of Param Bir Singh and Sachin Vaze has exposed how the former Mumbai CP had essentially given a free hand to Sachin Vaze, reinstating him into the CIU against the advice of the Joint CP Crime and verbally making him the CIU's in-charge.
Param Bir Singh's visit to the NIA offices is the first sign of inclusion of the former Mumbai CP in the probe proceedings in the Vazegate cases and comes ahead of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recording the statement of advocate Jaishri Patil who had filed a PIL at the Bombay HC following which the court directed the central agency to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the corruption allegations levelled by Param Bir Singh against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Meanwhile, sources have informed that Sachin Vaze's personal driver was interrogated by the NIA for six hours on Tuesday. The driver, who has been serving Vaze since 2012, was also reportedly in the active employment of the suspended API when the latter was surreptitiously leaving CST station on March 4. Sachin Vaze's driver was summoned on Tuesday after the new evidence was uncovered on Monday night following the recreation of Vaze at CST railway station and Kalwa station.
In a sensational development in the Vazegate scandal, Republic accessed CCTV footage from March 4 in which suspended Mumbai Police API Sachin Vaze is seen near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CST) - the same day that businessman Mansukh Hiren was found dead. In a late-night development in the probe into the Mansukh Hiren murder and the Antilia bomb scare probe on Monday and the early hours of Tuesday, the NIA had taken Sachin Vaze to CST railway station and Kalwa railway station and recreated the crime scene. Since then, Republic has accessed the 40-second-long CCTV footage from March 4 where Sachin Vaze is seen near the CST station.
As per sources, Sachin Vaze exited the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) office at 6.30 pm on March 4 following which he reportedly scaled the walls of the Mumbai Police headquarters to avoid the CCTV cameras and exited through the Social Service branch's canteen side and reached the CST station at around 7 pm. As per sources, Sachin Vaze, in connection with whom 7 cars and one bike have been seized and one car remains at large, then proceeded to take a train to Thane and reached the destination at 8.10 pm following which he made a phone call via a SIM card provided to him by bookie Naresh - who is currently in NIA custody.
As per reports, Sachin Vaze, accompanied by constable Vinayak Shinde, then met businessman Mansukh Hiren following which he is said to have reached Byculla at 9.20 pm and is said to have called his aide Riyaz Kazi to ask him to bring his mobile phone to the Dongri Police Station. As per sources, Sachin Vaze's attempt to call Kazi to Dongri Police Station was an alleged attempt made by the now-suspended API to hoodwink investigation agencies by creating an alibi for himself. Sources added that other police officials were also involved in the act apart from the bookies and Vaze's associates, and that later in the night, Vaze had raided a Mumbai night-club in a further effort to leave a false breadcrumb trail, which also included his mobile phone being switched on briefly by an associate far away from where his actual location is believed to have been.