Sachin Hindurao Vaze, the policeman who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Ambani bomb scare case, is not a small-time cop. An assistant police commissioner of the Mumbai Police, Vaze has had a very eventful career since his joining the Maharashtra police in 1990, when he was posted at Gadhchiroli, a small town near Nagpur. He was also a favourite of Shiv Sena, who in alliance with the BJP ruled the state from 1995 to 1999.
Vaze rapidly moved higher in the hierarchy to reach the Mumbai Police Crime Branch. In the crime branch, he was a part of the original group known as the “encounter specialists” alongside Pradeep Sharma and Daya Naik who are credited with ending gangsters of Mumbai.
In 2003, Vaze along with three other police officers was charged with murder and destruction of evidence in the custodial killing of 27-year-old engineer Khwaja Yunus, who worked in Dubai and had been picked up from Mumbai in 2002 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). As per police reports, it was alleged that Yunus had escaped from police custody while they were taking him to Aurangabad, but when CID investigated the case on the order of the High Court, it was found that he died in custody.
This led to Vaze’s suspension in 2004, and in 2007, he quit the Mumbai Police after his plea for reinstatement did not get any traction. He then joined the Shiv Sena and has been an active member of the party since then. Vaze started a social networking site ‘lai bhari’ and also claims to have developed software to “hear people’s phone conversations and access their messages.”
Moreover, Vaze has written two books, one on the Sheena Bora murder case and the other on David Headley, the LeT operative involved in the 26/11 terror attack who later turned approver. He used to appear on TV channels as an expert very often until last year when he was reinstated in the Mumbai Police, on accord of there being a shortage of human resources during the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, Vaze was no ordinary police official who was reinstated to fill the resource crunch. Within the days of reinstatement, he was handling some of the most important cases of the Mumbai Police, from the arrest of Arnab Goswami in the Anway Naik suicide case to the Dilip Chhabria case to the Hrithik Roshan fake e-mail case.
Since his reinstatement, almost all the politically sensitive cases went to him despite his junior rank in the Mumbai Police department. His proximity with the political establishment helped him to not get convicted in the custodial death of Khwaja Yunus case that is still pending in Mumbai court. Vaze’s reinstatement came as shock to the family of Yunus, who moved to court again for speedy trial after he was reinstated.
Despite having such a tainted track record, he is being shielded by the Shiv Sena, of which he has been an active member. Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP from Rajya Sabha told ANI, “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.”
He further added, “We respect NIA but our police could have done it too. Mumbai Police and ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad) are well respected but central agencies repeatedly enter Mumbai and demoralize Mumbai Police. It creates instability in the state and creates pressure on the Mumbai Police and administration.”
The arrest of Vaze puts the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra government in a tough spot because the Antilla bomb scare case seems to be a big conspiracy that was being hatched with political backing with Vaze being an integral part of it.