Arrested Mumbai cop Sachin Waze was running his alleged extortion racket from a room in a Nariman Point five-star hotel booked for him for 100 days at a cost of Rs 12 lakh by a businessman, the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) probe has revealed. The policeman had used a fake identity to check into the property, it shows. The probe body, looking into the recent bomb threat against industrialist Mukesh Ambani, has also questioned several police officers in connection with their now-suspended colleague's affairs. Some of them could possibly be arrested in the near future, NIA officials have said.
The probe shows that Mr Waze, a shootout specialist, was operating out of room number 1964 of the hotel, which he checked into using a forged Aadhaar card and the fictitious name Sushant Sadashiv Khamkar.
"A businessman had booked this hotel for 100 days and for Rs 12 lakh. Waze was helping this businessman in some dispute," a senior NIA official claimed. The booking was done through a travel agent, the officer said, adding that the suspended cop had stayed there in February while reporting for duty at the Crime Branch.
Mr Waze allegedly entered the hotel in an Innova on February 16 and left on February 20 in a Land Cruiser -- both vehicles were later seized by NIA. "The dates also coincide with those when he and his team members were raiding various establishments in Mumbai at night for licence violations," explained a senior NIA official.
The agency, probing the Ambani threat, arrested the policeman on March 13 for his alleged role in planting an explosive-laden vehicle near the Reliance Industries chief's residence on south Mumbai's Carmichael Road. It is also probing the mysterious death of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, to whom the SUV found near Antilia was traced back. Mr Waze, who initially probed the bomb-threat case, is now a prime suspect in Mr Hiran's case, too.
The agency has conducted searches at another hotel and a club in south Mumbai and a flat in neighbouring Thane on Thursday in connection with its Ambani security scare probe. The agency also detained a woman associate of Mr Waze's from airport yesterday, the report said. The flat searched in the Mira Road area of Thane was allegedly owned by this woman.
The terror probe body has questioned 35 officials up to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police in connection with these two cases. "We have recorded some statements; the rest, we have spoken to orally," one NIA official told NDTV, stating that some of officer questioned could be arrested in days to come as their complicity in Mr Waze's affairs was fool-proof.
"Senior police officials were very well aware of the kind of business Waze was conducting. We have enough evidence to prove it," a senior official said. "We are not in hurry to arrest officers," another said.
The NIA has inspected the said hotel room and seized CCTV footage to see who all met Mr Waze there.
"He was sorting out many deals for many influential people but as we are not an agency to look into anti-corruption matters, we'd pass the evidence to relevant agencies," another NIA official said.
While the state police initially stalled the NIA's probe, it relented somewhat after the latter recovered a Merceded-Benz connected to Mr Waze on February 16. "They knew we were on right track. Initially there was a hitch to remove Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, but a day later (March 17) he was removed to avoid embarrassment," an NIA official said.
The Mumbai High Court has reserved its order on a plea by former city police chief Param Bir Singh seeking a CBI probe into alleged corruption by state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, of which Mr Waze's extortion racket was a part.
The court posed serious questions to Mr Singh, asking him why no FIRs were filed based on his own allegations.