Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam targeted MVA ally and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut over the reinstatement of now suspended Mumbai Police API Sachin Vaze and urged the NIA to pick up 'talkative' leaders like Raut in order to confront him with Vaze. Attacking Shiv Sena over the Vazegate scandal that has left Mumbai Police and Maharashtra government red-faced and in some amount of political and administrative peril, Sanjay NHirupam pointed out that Sanjay Raut, who had previously maintained that Sachin Vaze was honest and competent, had now said that he opposed Vaze's reinstatement to service. Nirupam questioned the involvement of other leaders in Sachin Vaze's return to service and said that the NIA should pick up Sanjay Raut to confront him with Vaze and bring out the names of his 'bosses'.
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The mystery over why Sachin Vaze was brought back to the force continues to remain largely unanswered. He had been out in the cold for almost 16 years during which time he had even contested polls under a Shiv Sena ticket. Devendra Fadnavis recently said that he was approached by no less than Uddhav Thackeray to re-instate Vaze when Fadnavis had been the CM but declined to after getting legal advice. However, shortly after the MVA government came into power, and the lockdown commenced, Vaze was brought back into the Mumbai Police fold citing a shortage of officers. How he came to wield so much power and influence despite being an API is still unknown.
The National Investigative Agency (NIA) recovered two number plates from the Mithi river on Sunday, with the help of 11 divers in the presence of ex-Mumbai API Sachin Vaze. The number of both license plates are identical and is said to belong to a vehicle that was stolen from Auranganabad and was blacklisted by the Regional Transport Office on November 17, 2020. Besides the number plates, two CCTV DVRs, two CPUs, a hard disk, a laptop and a printer among other pieces of evidence were also recovered from the river, which were allegedly thrown into the river as part of 'evidence destruction' by Vaze's aide API Riyaz Kazi.
Earlier on Sunday, a CCTV footage at a number plate shop was accessed by Republic TV in which Riyaz Kazi was seen entering a number plate shop in Mumbai and have a conversation with the owner of the outlet. He was also seen taking away DVDs and a computer from the shop, which he later allegedly destroyed at the Mithi river. Riyaz Kazi was previously summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Mumbai Police's ATS in connection with the Antilia bomb scare probe and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren. Both ATS and NIA reportedly suspect that Kazi helped Sachin Vaze get the fake number plates.
On February 25, at around 3 PM, a car (green Scorpio) laden with explosive gelatin sticks along with a threatening letter was found by Mumbai Police, outside the Ambani residence - Antilia. A primary investigation from the CCTV revealed that the car had been parked near the residence since 1 AM, intervening night on between Wednesday-Thursday. Later on March 5, Mansukh Hiren, the owner of the car in question, was found dead at the Kalwa creek - with police claiming that he committed suicide by jumping into the stream. With the deceased wife alleging murder, Maharashtra ATS probed and arrested a bookie and convicted cop Vinayak Shinde in connection with Hiren's murder.
Meanwhile, then-Mumbai API Sachin Vaze was arrested by NIA on March 20 for his alleged involvement in placing explosives in the aforementioned car and has been sent to custody till April 3, invoking UAPA against Vaze. While Vaze has been suspended again from police service, his superior - Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh has been transferred to Home Guards due to 'lapses' in the probe. He has sent an 8-page letter to CM Thackeray, HM Anil Deshmukh and Gov Koshyari alleging that Deshmukh had demanded Vaze to collect Rs 100 crores from 1750 pubs in Mumbai per month - which has been refuted by NCP.
Moreover, while handing over the Hiren murder case to NIA, Maharashtra ATS has stated to a Thane court Vaze's raid at a bar on the intervening night of Feb 4 & 5 had been no more than a ruse. NIA, which has seized Sachin Vaze's laptop, some mobile phones, iPad, and documents from his office has also seized several luxury cars from Vaze's office and home - including a black Mercedes and White Landcruiser Prado - in which Hiren was seen travelling with Vaze. NIA has claimed that Sachin Vaze had worn excessive-sized clothes (kurta-pyjamas) to conceal his identity on February 25 when the explosives-laden car was seen near Antilla, citing CCTV footage from the site.