Sachin Vaze, arrested by India's National Investigative Agency (NIA) for allegedly planting a bomb outside the Mumbai-based residence of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, on Sunday said that he was part of a “bigger conspiracy” which also involved leaders from the regional political outfit Shiv Sena, as per media reports.
Shiv Sena is the governing party in Maharashtra at the state level; it is an opposition party at the federal level. A former ally of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena decided to part ways with Prime Minister Modi's party over differences in a power-sharing arrangement in Maharashtra state in 2019.
Sources in the NIA told Indian portal ABP News that several Shiv Sena leaders played a “major role” in planting gelatin sticks in an SUV which was found at Ambani’s residence on 25 February, as suggested by Vaze.
“I am the tip of the iceberg in the case,” Vaze, a cop in Mumbai’s police force, reportedly told the Indian investigators.
Vaze was arrested by the NIA on Saturday evening, after 13 hours of rigorous questioning by the Indian investigators.
Vaze’s name popped up in the case after the owner of the bomb-laden vehicle, a local businessman, was found dead under mysterious circumstances nearby, a week after the car was recovered at Ambani’s residence.
The wife of the dead businessman Mansukh Hiran told the probe agencies that her deceased husband had lent his SUV to Vaze in November last year, and that it was returned by the cop only in the first week of February.
After Ms. Hiran’s allegations, the investigation into the high-profile case was handed from Mumbai Police to the federal NIA.
Meanwhile, Sanjay Raut, a federal parliamentarian from Shiv Sena, threw his weight behind Vaze on Sunday, describing the Mumbai cop as an “honest” police officer.
“I believe Sachin Vaze is a very honest and capable officer. He has been arrested in connection with gelatin sticks that were found. One suspicious death also occurred. It's Mumbai Police's responsibility to investigate the matter. No central team was needed,” the Shiv Sena leader said.
Raut further accused the federal government of “pressuring” Mumbai Police for handing over the case to the NIA, stating that the decision was “demoralising” to the Mumbai Police, which could have investigated the matter without any help from the federal agency.