'Antilia' bomb scare: Sachin Waze told his driver it was 'secret operation', says NIA

By PTI

MUMBAI: It was a “secret operation”, former police officer Sachin Waze told his official driver, who was with him on the day when an explosives-laden SUV was placed near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence ‘Antilia’ here in February this year, the NIA has said in its charge sheet.

The driver’s statement is part of the charge sheet filed by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) last week before a special court here against Waze and nine others in connection with the recovery of the vehicle with gelatin sticks near Ambani’s south Mumbai residence on February 25 and the subsequent murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran.

The driver narrated the entire sequence of events leading to the planting of the vehicle near Ambani’s house on the intervening night of February 24 and 25.

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He told the probe agency that at around 05.30 pm on February 24, he had driven Waze to ‘Dnyaneshwari’ bungalow, the official residence of the then Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.

Waze went inside the residence alone and returned in about an hour, the driver said.

The driver further stated that Waze asked him to change the number plates of Mahindra Scorpio, the explosives-laden vehicle which was placed outside Ambani’s resdince, and an Innova car, multiple times.

He also told the NIA that Waze had asked him to take specific routes and pay toll plazas.

“At about 2.10 am I was following the Scorpio car driven by Waze at a very slow speed on Carmichael Road. At a particular point, he stopped the Scorpio and parked it on the left side of the road,” the driver stated.

“Accordingly, I also stopped my Innova car at a distance of about 40 to 50 meters behind the Scorpio,” he added.

The driver further stated that he returned to the Innova car after about five minutes and removed his face mask and shield.

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Waze then asked him to drive ahead, and after a while the former API (assistant police inspector) realised that his identity card was missing and asked the driver to check in the car (Innova), but it wasn’t found.

As per his statement, they then came to Waze’s residence in neighbouring Thane district, where Waze went inside to search for his identity card.

However, he returned after about 20 minutes, and told the driver that he had probably forgotten the card in the Scorpio.

At around 4.30 am they returned to the Carmichael Road, where Waze went inside the Scorpio and returned after a while.

Waze then directed the driver to take him to Thane.

The driver also stated that Waze had taken his phone and switched it off when he reported to duty (on February 24).

It was returned only after he drove Waze home, the driver told the NIA.

In his statement, the driver further said when he enquired about the entire episode, Waze told him it was a “secret operation”, and asked him not to reveal it to anyone.

“On February 26, I was attending the marriage ceremony of a colleague when I came to know about the incident from TV news channels. I was very scared on seeing the said news, but I did not tell this story to anyone,” he added.

The NIA in its charge sheet also said Waze placed the SUV near Ambani’s house here to regain his reputation as a “super cop”.

Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran was subsequently killed as Waze thought him to be the “weak link” in the conspiracy, the NIA said, alleging that Pradeep Sharma, a former police officer, was roped in to execute the murder.

Hiran, who had claimed that the SUV had been stolen from his possession, was found dead in a creek in Thane on March 5.

Besides Waze and Pradeep Sharma, the others accused in the case are Vinayak Shinde, Naresh Gor Riyazuddin Kazi, Sunil Mane, Anand Jadhav, Satish Mothkuri, Manish Soni and Santosh Shelar.

Shinde, Kazi and Mane are former police officers The accused have been charged under various Indian Penal Code sections, including for murder, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance, as well as relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act.