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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Uddhav Thackeray sniffs something ‘fishy’ in Antilia case

The Union home ministry has handed over the case involving a explosives-laden car parked near Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai home to the NIA

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui New Delhi Published 09.03.21, 12:50 AM
Police personnel guard Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia in Mumbai on February 26, a day after explosives  were found in an abandoned car in its vicinity

Police personnel guard Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia in Mumbai on February 26, a day after explosives were found in an abandoned car in its vicinity PTI

The Union home ministry has handed over to the National Investigation Agency the case of the explosives-laden car parked near Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai home, setting the stage for another showdown with the Maharashtra government.

Shortly after the case was transferred, Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said there was “something fishy” about the Centre’s move.

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Despite questions to the NIA spokesperson, it remained unclear whether the agency would also probe the related case of the mysterious death of the car’s purported owner, Mansukh Hiren.

Uddhav insisted that the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police, which was investigating both the car and the suspected murder, would continue to probe Hiren’s death.

He said the Centre ought to have trusted the ATS. “(Government) agencies are not someone’s property. Governments change but the system doesn’t; one needs to believe in the system,” Uddhav told reporters in Mumbai.

“If the Centre is planning to take the case over, there is something fishy about it.”

He took a jab at the BJP, saying his police were probing the “suicide of Mohan Delkar”, a seven-term MP from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, but Maharashtra’s BJP lawmakers were silent because the Union Territory was governed by the Centre.

Delkar, 58, an Independent member of the Lok Sabha, was found dead at a Mumbai hotel on February 22. His family has alleged that harassment by the Union Territory administration drove him to suicide, and a purported suicide note apparently backs this up.

“The (Maharashtra) Opposition has not the guts to speak about it as they know who calls the shots in Union Territories. A Union Territory is governed by the Centre,” Uddhav said. “We’ll take the case to its logical conclusion.”

Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh told the Assembly the state police were perfectly capable of solving the car-explosives case.

Hiren, an auto parts dealer, was found dead in a creek in neighbouring Thane on Friday, just about a week after a vehicle containing gelatin sticks was found parked near Ambani’s south Mumbai home on February 25. Hiren’s wife Vimla has alleged her husband was murdered.

On Sunday, the ATS had taken over from the Mumbai police the car case as well as Hiren’s death and registered an FIR.

The NIA spokesperson said the agency “has received orders from the home ministry” to probe the car case and was re-registering it.

Maharashtra, ruled by a Sena-Congress-NCP coalition, had earlier objected when the Centre accorded Y-plus security to actress Kangana Ranaut after she compared Mumbai to “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” and the state government to the Taliban.

Uddhav’s government had also been unhappy when BJP members sought a CBI probe into actor Sushant Rajput’s apparent suicide last year — a demand the Supreme Court eventually granted at a request from the Centre.

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