Assistant police inspector and encounter specialist Sachin Vaze, who has gunned down 63 underworld gangsters during his three-decade-long controversial career, has come under scanner for his role in the mysterious death of Mansukh Hiren, whose “stolen” SUV laden with gelatin sticks from the vehicle was recovered by the police near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in south Mumbai.
Known for his proximity to the ruling Shiv Sena, Vaze was incidentally the first person to reach the spot where a Mahindra Scorpio with 20 gelatin sticks and a letter threatening Ambanis lay abandoned near Mukesh Ambani’s skyscraper mansion “Antilia” on Carmichael Road in south Mumbai on February 25.
While speaking in the State Assembly on Friday, former chief minister and current leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had raised several questions about the role of Vaze in the mysterious circumstances leading to Hiren's death.
Turning the needle of suspicion towards API Vaze who was investigating the case, Fadnavis had said that Hiren appeared to know Vaze, which bears out from his telephone records. “After the car was found abandoned near Ambani’s home ( on February 25), it was Vaze who reached the spot first and not the local Gamdevi police. He seized the car and also the letter. We were earlier told an Assistant Commissioner of Police will probe the incident. But Vaze was subsequently made in charge of the case. Why?,” Fadnavis had asked.
Deshmukh said that Vaze was not the Investigation Officer as was being claimed by the leader of the Opposition, but Assistant Commissioner of Police Nitin Aluknare.
Contesting the Home Minister’s statement, Fadnavis said that Hiren had said in his statement to the police that he had purchased the car from Newton.
On Saturday, BJP leader Ashish Shelar questioned the presence of an “encounter specialist” assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze at the time of Mansukh's post mortem.
“Vaze’s presence at the post-mortem of Mansukh is suspicious as he is neither part of Thane police nor the ATS, which is probing the case. It gives an impression that there is something that this government wants to hide,” Shelar said.
Attached to the Crime Intelligence Unit of the Crime Branch-CID of the Mumbai Police, 49-year-old Vaze is currently handling important cases like the sensational TRP rigging scam, the Anvay Naik suicide case in which he arrested TV anchor-editor Arnab Goswami, sports car scam involving Dilip Chhabria and Bollywood-TV-entertainment industry’s casting couch racket
Vaze has in the past solved several cybercrime and financial frauds and an international credit card fraud.
After joining the police force in 1990 as a Sub-Inspector, Vaze was initially posted in the Naxalite-infested Gadchiroli district. Later on he was posted in Thane.
After joining the Mumbai Police force, Vaze became one of “encounter specialists” He eliminated several gangsters including those belonging to the Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan gangs.
He has in all 63 encounter killings to his credit. It may be recalled that on 3 March 2004, Vaze was suspended along with 14 other policemen for the alleged custodial death of Khwaja Yunus, a suspect in the December 2, 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast case. Vaze subsequently resigned from the police on November 30 2007 after requests for his reinstatement were rejected by the Maharashtra government.
The Maharashtra government revoked his suspension and reinstated him in the Mumbai police on June 6, 2020 – after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown during which there was shortage of police staff.
After Vaze’s reinstatement, Khawaja Yunus's mother Asiya Begum has filed contempt pleas in the Bombay High Court against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and Additional Director General of Police Amitabh Gupta, who was the Principal Secretary of Home department and now Pune Police chief. She has challenged the reinstatement of Vaze in the high court.