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MVA allies, BJP spar over Sachin Vaze arrest

Fadnavis: details of this murky case are indicative of a major conspiracy

The arrest of Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze in connection with the security scare outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai provoked a war of words between the Shiv Sena and the Congress, Maha Vikas Aghadi allies, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday.

Congress leaders Nana Patole and Balasaheb Thorat, along with Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut, lashed out at the BJP for attempting to “defame” Maharashtra and lower the morale of the Mumbai Police. In turn, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis slammed the Sena for allegedly shielding Mr. Vaze. He said the arrest was just the tip of the iceberg and more skeletons would tumble from the closet.

“This is not a small plot but a major one… there are several people involved in this and all their names and motives will now come out into the open. The manner in which the details of this murky case are coming out is indicative of a major conspiracy,” said Mr. Fadnavis, speaking in Pune.

‘Questions over probe’

He said Mr. Vaze, who headed the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) that was leading the probe into the bomb scare outside Mr. Ambani’s house, put “a major question mark” on the way the probe was carried out.

Mr. Fadnavis questioned Mr. Vaze’s reinstatement in the police force last year despite the Bombay High Court not clearing his name in the 2003 Khwaja Yunus custodial death case.

“When I was chief minister and held the Home portfolio, the Sena [the then ally of the BJP] had pressed me to reinduct Mr. Vaze. But I referred the case to the State Advocate-General, who counselled against his reinstatement. However, after the Sena came to power, Mr. Vaze was reinstated with the government citing manpower shortage due to COVID-19,” he said, expressing astonishment at Mr. Vaze being given charge of the CIU.

Meanwhile, Mr. Raut, while supporting Mr. Vaze, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency on Saturday, questioned the ‘pressure’ put on the Mumbai Police by Central agencies. “I believe Sachin Vaze is a very honest and capable officer. While he has been arrested in connection with the gelatin sticks that were found in an SUV outside Mr. Ambani’s home and a suspicious death [that of Mansukh Hiren] has also occurred, it is the Mumbai Police’s responsibility to investigate the matter. No Central team was needed,” said the Sena MP.

In a thinly veiled jibe at the BJP, Mr. Patole, State Congress chief, and Mr. Raut, castigated the “repeated interference” of Central bodies in the cases, remarking that it created “instability”. Mr. Thorat said that the intervention of Central agencies in local matters tended to demoralise the Mumbai Police, which was second only to the Scotland Yard in its capabilities.

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