As the NIA arrests API Sachin Waze in the SUV bomb scare case, a look at the how and when the events unfolded.
API Sachin Waze was brought to the NIA office after his custody hearing on Sunday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Assistant Police Inspector (API) Sachin Waze of Mumbai police was arrested late on Saturday night in the case of the explosives-laden Scorpio outside the Ambani residence – a case he was investigating last month. The arrest was made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case now. Sources said that a Scorpio similar to the one in the case was seen in video footages from the time TV anchor Arnab Goswami was arrested in November 2020. Waze had accompanied Raigad police for the arrest.
API Waze resumed work in June 2020 after remaining suspended for 16 years. He was given the coveted post to head the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai police’s Crime Branch.
Waze was arrested after 13 hours of questioning. NIA said in its official statement, “Sachin Waze arrested on 13.3.2021 at 2350 hrs…Sachin Waze API Mumbai Police Crime Branch arrested for his role and involvement in Placing explosives laden vehicle near Carmichael Rood on 25th February 2021.”
Waze has been booked under Sections 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (punishment for forgery), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“The accused has been arrested based solely on suspicion. No prima facie case appears to be established in the FIR. The detention and arrest of the accused are completely illegal. Even a day’s incarceration would be violative of his constitutional right,” advocate Sunny Punamiya, Waze’s counsel told mid-day.
“He was not even informed on the grounds for arrest. He was not given the option to seek legal opinion or call his family. His custodial interrogation is not warranted, arbitrary and the accused must be released on bail forthwith,” Punamiya added.
The Public Prosecutor appearing for NIA demanded maximum custody, saying there is strong evidence against him and that there is a big conspiracy involving others. He added that the accused needs to be interrogated with others.
Arrested based on videos
According to sources, the NIA arrested Waze based on leads that include video footages where he has allegedly used the Scorpio and based on statements of witnesses. The agency scrutinised the CCTV camera footage from November 2020 to February 5 as Mansukh Hiran’s wife Vimla had alleged that Waze used the car in that period. Sources also confirmed that NIA found one video where Waze, along with CIU officers, is seen near a similar-looking Scorpio, but with a different number plate. The video is believed to be of November 5, 2020, the day Waze went to arrest TV anchor Arnab Goswami along with Raigad police in an abetment to suicide case.
The agency also traced the Innova seen tailing the Scorpio on February 25 near Antilia. NIA officers confirmed that the Innova car was with the CIU.
Following Waze’s arrest, other officers and CIU staff have been questioned by the NIA to check if they were aware of the conspiracy or were a part of the same. Senior officers also confirmed that as per rules, Waze will be suspended and an order would be issued on Monday by the Mumbai police chief’s office.
Feb 25: Abandoned Scorpio laden with explosive material found 500 meters away from Antilia. A threat note was also found. A case against unknown persons was registered. The same night, ATS identifies car as the one stolen on Feb 18, with an FIR registered with Vikhroli police. ATS reaches out to car owner Mansukh Hiran.
Feb 26: Hiran brought to the Commissioner of Police’s office in South Mumbai by API Sachin Waze.
Feb 27-28: Waze again records Hiran’s statement.
March 28: A terror organisation, Jaish-Ul-Hind, claims it planted the Scorpio with explosives, says this is just a trailer on a Telegram app. Mumbai police disputes claim, shares denial letter from the organisation.
March 1: Crime Branch realises Hiran and Waze know each other, transfers case to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Nitin Alaknure.
March 3: At Waze’s suggestion, after consulting a lawyer, Hiran gives a harassment complaint against the police and media to the CM, Mumbai and Thane police commissioners.
March 4: As per Hiran’s wife, Vimla, he left from home at 8.30 pm after receiving a call from an officer named Tawade from Kandivli police.
March 5: Family files missing person complaint at Naupada police station. Hiran’s body is found in the creek at Retibunder, Mumbra. Cause of death reserved but autopsy confirms ante-mortem injuries on the body.
March 6: After pressure from Devendra Fadanvis, case transferred to ATS.
March 7: ATS files case of murder, destruction of evidence, conspiracy against unknown people. Hiran’s wife says she suspects Waze to be behind her husband’s murder.
March 8: Following orders from the MHA, NIA takes over case from ATS, which also questions Waze on that day.
March 9: Devendra Fadnavis reads Vimla’s statement in the assembly.
March 10: Waze transferred to Special Branch, CM Uddhav Thackeray promises to punish guilty, says Waze should not be targeted and that he is not Osama bin Laden.
March 11: A private cyber firm hired by Mumbai police claims Jaish-Ul-Hind’s claim posted on Telegram from Tihar jail. Delhi police’s special cell recovers phones from a barrack where Indian Mujahideen and Al-Qaeda terrorists are locked.
March 12: Waze posted at Mumbai police’s Citizen Facilitation Centre.
March 12: Waze refused interim bail by a Thane court based on prima facie evidence in Hiran’s murder case. Court asks ATS to file a reply by the next hearing.
March 13: Waze goes to the NIA office at 11.50 pm and is arrested for allegedly planting the Scorpio near Antilia.
March 14: Waze remanded to NIA custody till March 25.