The NIA on Thursday morning raided the home of former Mumbai Police ‘encounter specialist’ Pradeep Sharma in connection with the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare investigation.
A team from the central agency and armed CRPF (central reserve police force) personnel arrived at Sharma’s home in Mumbai’s Andheri at 5 am and have been conducting searches since.
The raids come after possible links between Pradeep Sharma and an individual named Santosh Shelar, who was arrested this week and has been sent to NIA custody till June 21.
There are photographs of Sharma and Shelar together but these have been dismissed by the ex-cop, who has said Santosh Shelar was a police informant. Sharma also said there are photographs of him with thousands of other people, indicating that pictures with Shelar don’t mean anything.
Sharma – regarded by some as former Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze’s mentor – was first questioned in April. At that time an agency official said they had “some definitive clues that some help could have been provided by Sharma in the Mansukh Hiran case”.
Waze – who is in NIA custody – had told the agency that the 20 gelatine sticks found in the SUV near the Ambani residence were procured through Pradeep Sharma’s contact.
Waze is regarded as the prime suspect in both cases – the bomb scare and the death of businessman Hiran, who had claimed the explosives-filled SUV was stolen from him.
The NIA had indicated Sharma is on their radar not just because of links to Waze but because of meetings with the accused held after the crime. These indicate he was trying to help Waze, who was caught on camera planting a threatening letter in the SUV, a NIA official said.
In 2019 Pradeep Sharma quit his high-profile police job to contest the Assembly polls on a Shiv Sena ticket. He lost the election and now runs an NGO named PS Foundation.
Apart from Santosh Shelar, another individual – Anand Jadhav – was also arrested.
According to the NIA they were arrested June 11 from Mumbai’s Malad area. However, a senior Mumbai Police official had claimed they were caught in Latur district June 10.
Mansukh Hiran – an auto parts dealer who had claimed the SUV used in the bomb scare was stolen from him – was found dead in a creek in Thane on March 5. Days earlier police had recovered an SUV filled with 20 gelatine sticks from near Ambani’s Mumbai home – Antilla.
With input from PTi