Police inspector Sunil Mane
MUMBAI: The NIA on Friday arrested police inspector Sunil Mane in connection with the planting of explosives in a Scorpio near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25 and the subsequent murder of the vehicle’s owner, Mansukh Hiran.
Mane (52) was arrested after NIA questioned him through Thursday night and confronted him with statements of arrested assistant police inspectors Sachin Waze and Riyazuddin Kazi. Officials said Mane was not only involved in the conspiracy meetings, but was present in Thane on March 4 night, when Hiran was killed. He is the fourth cop and fifth person held in the case.
Mane called Hiran posing as inspector Tawde: NIA
Police inspector Sunil Mane, arrested in connection with the planting of explosives in a Scorpio near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence on February 25 and subsequent murder of the vehicle owner Mansukh Hiran, was produced before the NIA court on Friday. He was remanded in police custody till April
28. Mane’s lawyer Aditya Gor said, “My client has claimed innocence and on my application, the court has allowed me to speak to him for 30 minutes and he should have access to his medical report.’’ Earlier, the NIA had arrested APIs Sachin Waze, Riyazuddin Kazi, convicted constable Vinayak Shinde and Gujarat-based cricket bookie Naresh Gor.
Mane, who was previously attached to the crime branch unit XI, was moved to the local arms division in the recent crime branch clean-up drive after Waze’s arrest. Last year, he was abruptly transferred from crime branch unit X to Modus Operandi Branch after an accused alleged that he had extorted money from him.
Mane is accused of attending the March 2 and 3 conspiracy meetings held by Waze. The March 2 meeting was at Andheri which was attended by Waze, Mane and a retired cop. Initially, it was decided that Mane would keep Hiren in hiding, but Mane refused. At the March 3 meeting, Mane, along with Waze, called Hiran to the Crime Intelligence Unit office at the police headquarters and pressured him to take the responsibility of the bomb scare case and assured him early bail. When Hiran refused, Waze and others allegedly decided to eliminate him. NIA officials said it was Mane who used the Gujarat SIM card to call Hiran at his Thane residence posing as ‘inspector Tawde’.
According to the NIA, on March 4, Waze, Shinde, Mane and three others were in two cars waiting for Hiran. When he arrived, Waze spoke to him for a while and then handed him over to his accomplices, who killed him and dumped his body in Mumbra creek, the agency said.
Public prosecutor Prakash Shetty told the NIA court that they needed Mane’s custody to obtain his devices and call records as he had a role in Hiran’s murder.
Early this month, the NIA had recorded the statements of former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma and former police commissioner Param Bir Singh as Waze was directly reporting to Singh. Sources said Kazi, who is likely to be made an approver, has disclosed the entire conspiracy and destruction of evidence.
A detailed investigation by the NIA and ATS suggests that Waze wanted to take the credit of ‘solving’ the case and restore his image as he had been suspended for 16 years after the custodial death of alleged terror suspect Khwaja Yunus. The initial plan was to kill two suspected criminals outside Ambani’s house in the fake encounter and take credit.
Meanwhile, the judicial custody of both Waze and Kazi has been extended to May 5. Waze moved a plea seeking law books, mattress and towels. He also sought medication, carbon papers and postal stamps. The prosecution opposed his plea.