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Maharashtra ATS forms multiple teams to probe Hiren’s ‘murder’

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Anil Deshmukh

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday said that the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) has registered a murder case and launched investigations into the mystery of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiren’s body being recovered from the Thane Creek wetlands on March 5.

A stolen SUV Scorpio, belonging to Hiren, had been abandoned outside Antilia, the home of Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Feb. 25 and later 20 gelatin sticks and a purported threat letter were found in it.

Exactly 10 days later, Hiren’s body was found in the Thane Creek, resulting in a political uproar after which it is now being probed as a murder case.

Deshmukh said that considering the circumstances and the appeals made by Hiren’s family, including his widow Vimala, the case has been handed over to the ATS which will probe the murder angle.

The ATS has set up around 10 investigation teams to probe different aspects of the probe, which visited the Hiren family and the marshes from where his body was fished out last Friday (March 5).

On a complaint by Vimala Hiren, the ATS has registered a FIR under Indian Penal Code’s Sec. 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 34 (common intention), and 120B (criminal conspiracy), against some unknown persons.

His family and friends rejected outright the ‘suicide’ theory since Hiren, 48, was a good swimmer, owned a car accessories business, in Thane.

On Saturday evening, Deshmukh held a meeting with Director-General of Police Hemant Nagrale, and the government wrote to Additional Director General of Police Jai Jeet Singh and ATS head, to take over the investigations.

In the letter to Singh, Deputy Home Secretary Ramesh Manale mentioned both the cases – the recovery of the SUV and gelatin sticks outside Antilia, coupled with the mystery death of Mansukh Hiren, the prime witness in the case, seeking an immediate probe and submitting the report to the government on priority.

Meanwhile, the gelatin sticks have been sent to the Forensics Science Laboratory, Mumbai for detailed analysis and to ascertain if the SUV chassis number of the car was tampered or changed, to help identify the real owner of the vehicle.

Earlier, Deshmukh informed the Maharashtra Legislature that the car belonged to one Sam Peter Newton and he had given it over to Hiren’s company for interior refurbishment – since he could not pay up for the work done.

However, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, contested this pointing out how Hiren in his statement to the police had said that he had purchased the car from Newton.

Prior to his death, on March 2, Hiren had shot off a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deshmukh and the police chiefs of Mumbai and Thane alleging harassment.

“I have already given my explanation and statements about how the vehicle was stolen, and I am being victimised and suffering harassment by police and news reporters,” Hiren’s letter said, adding that he had been repeatedly interrogated by the Vikhroli and Ghatkopar police stations, Crime Intelligence Unit and Nagpada unit of ATS and also NIA.

“The interrogation by various agencies disturbed my peace of mind. In spite of being a victim, I am treated as an accused. I have also been receiving calls from media houses who have been harassing me and my family,” he said.

The alleged threat letter, how the gelatin sticks were found in the SUV and tracking the vehicles’ original owner shall be matters of the investigation.

Crime

Extortion case: Mumbai Police file charge-sheet against Param Bir, others

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The Mumbai Police on Saturday filed a voluminous charge-sheet against suspended DGP Param Bir Singh and three others in an extortion case lodged by a businessman before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’S Court, officials said here.

This is the first charge-sheet filed against Singh — a former Mumbai Police Commissioner, who was suspended on December 2 — in the five FIRs lodged against him in Mumbai and Thane.

The chargesheet, with evidences and the recorded statements of witnessses, also names sacked cop Sachin Vaze, currently in police custody, and two others in the extortion case filed by a hotelier, Bimal Agarwal.

The two other accused named are Alpesh Patel and Sumit Singh, who are currently out on bail, while the police are yet to file charges against two more accused, Vinay Singh and Riyaz Bhati.

Singh, the Maharashtra State Home Guards Commandant General, who was ‘untraceable’ for nearly six months till he resurfaced in Mumbai 10 days ago, had recorded his statement in the case, which was registered by the Goregaon Police on August 25 and later transferred to the Crime Branch.

As per Agarwal’s complaint, Singh, Vaze and the others allegedly threatened to file fake cases against him and extorted nearly Rs 12 lakh between January 2020 and March 2021. The Crime Branch is probing the case now.

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Crime

INX media case: Former director Peter Mukerjea gets regular bail

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A Delhi Court on Saturday granted regular bail to former media baron Peter Mukerjea, in connection with an alleged criminal conspiracy involving former Union Finance minister P. Chidambaram, his son Karti and others in relation to foreign direct investment to a firm, INX Media, in 2007.

The special CBI judge M.K. Nagpal granted the bail to Mukerjea, who was the erstwhile director and Chief Operating Officer of INX Media.

The bail application was argued by Adv Sandeep Kapur, Senior Partner, Karanjawala and Co and assisted by Adv Apoorva Pandey, Adv Ashneet Singh, Adv Mridul Yadav, and Adv GG Kashyap.

According to the case, excess Foreign Direct Investment was approved by INX Media (P) Ltd without the approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board which was allegedly scuttled by Karti Chidambaram by influencing public servants from various government departments by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and receiving huge kick-backs as consideration.

On November 27, the same special court had issued summons to Chidambarams and others in ED and CBI cases in connection with Aircel Maxis money-laundering and corruption cases, in which the CBI and the ED have alleged that as the former finance minister granted approval to the deal beyond his capacity, which benefited certain persons and he received kickbacks in return.

It is alleged that Chidambaram withheld Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance of the deal until his son, Karti Chidambaram received the five-per cent share in the company.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for probe agencies had earlier informed the court that agencies have sent Letters Rogatory — documents making a request through a foreign court to obtain information — to different countries and there are some developments on that.

According to rules and the foreign direct investment policy in force at that time, Chidambaram was allegedly empowered to give approval to proposals involving foreign investment only up to Rs 600 crore.

Special Judge M.K. Nagpal had noted that there was sufficient evidence to summon Chidambaram and the other accused in the corruption and money-laundering cases.

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Crime

Gujarat’s first Omicron case detected in Jamnagar

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 Gujarat on Saturday registered first Omicron case after a Zimbabwe resident, who arrived in Jamnagar, was found infected with Covid-19’s new mutant.

The Nodal officer for Corona, GG Hospital, Jamnagar, Dr S. Chatterjee told IANS: “Samples of the 72-year-old Zimbabwe resident sent to Biotechnological Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad tested positive for Omicron. The patient is in isolation since his admission. We had traced all his close contacts, screened them and they tested negative. But we will conduct the test of all his contacts once again.”

As he had returned from Zimbabwe, an African nation and one of the “at risk” countries identified by the authorities, his samples were sent to Ahmedabad for genome sequencing, which tested positive.

The man is believed to be a native of Jamnagar who has been living in Zimbabwe for many years.

He arrived on November 28 to meet his father-in-law. After he got a fever, his doctor advised him to get an RT-PCR test done. As mandated, the private laboratory informed the health authorities that his report was Covid-19 positive.

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