Top Maharashtra ministers met at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s home this morning amid discomfiture over the handling of the Mukesh Ambani security scare case, in which a Mumbai police officer is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and other ministers including Eknath Shinde, Balasaheb Thorat, Anil Parab and Jayant Patil were part of the meeting. Sources say the discussions may include the Covid surge in the state, apart from the subject of Sachin Waze, the officer arrested for his suspected role in the case involving an explosives-laden car abandoned near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s multistorey home Antilia in Mumbai.
This is a day after the Chief Minister’s meeting with ally and NCP leader Sharad Pawar. The two met yesterday at the Chief Minister’s home and reportedly discussed Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze’s arrest and the police’s handling of the bomb scare near Antilia two weeks ago.
The two leaders, say sources, discussed measures to contain the fallout of the arrest of Sachin Waze, who was earlier with Mr Thackeray’s Shiv Sena.
The investigation has been taken over by the national anti-terror agency NIA, becoming a bigger embarrassment for the Maharashtra government with daily revelations emerging on Sachin Waze.
In the latest twist to the case, the NIA has learnt that Waze allegedly seized CCTV footage at his own apartment complex and removed it.
Sources say Chief Minister Thackeray met two senior Mumbai police officers — Milind Bharambe and Vishwas Nangre Patil – to discuss the probe details.
Maharashtra’s opposition BJP has been targeting the Uddhav Thackeray government over Sachin Waze, who was suspended after his arrest last week.
The case involves the mysterious abandoning of a Scorpio SUV carrying gelatin sticks on Mumbai’s Carmichael Road, near Antilia, on February 25. It carried a threat letter to Mukesh and Nita Ambani. Sachin Vaze was the first investigating officer in the case. The vehicle was traced to one Mansukh Hiran, a Thane-based auto parts dealer, who had reported it stolen on February 17.
Hiran was found dead in a creek near Mumbai on March 5. His wife alleged that Mr Vaze had borrowed the same vehicle for four months till he returned it on February 5. She also accused the cop of a role in her husband’s death, following which the NIA took over the case earlier being probed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The opposition BJP has accused the Chief Minister of trying to protect Mr Vaze because he was a Sena member during a break in his career, when he was suspended over a murder case.
BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis alleged on Sunday that the state government encouraged Mr Vaze to think he could do anything and so he allegedly planned and executed the scare near Antilia.
The Sena has hit back saying the NIA has been sent with a malafide intent and that Waze’s arrest was premeditated, The party said he had been targeted for his cases. In its mouthpiece Saamana, an editorial said, “There was an attack on Maharashtra’s autonomy.”. Sena sources say the NIA leaks are targeted at embarrassing the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police.