Those arrested have been identified as Vinayak Shinde (55), a gendarme convicted of the false meeting between Chhota Rajan’s partner, Ram Lakhan Bhaiya, in 2007, and Naresh Ramniklal Gore (31), a bookmaker. Shinde, on parole since May 2020, worked with Sachin Waze in a team led by a retired dating specialist Pradeep Sharma.
ATS suspects that more police officers are involved in the murder, motivated by Mansukh’s reluctance to accept the blow for planting the explosives. Waze allegedly ordered the hit but may not have been present when Mansukh was assassinated. The digital trail left by Waze and others to communicate with Mansukh and with each other helped ATS identify the suspects.
Gore and Shinde were brought to the Thane ATS court, which took them into custody until March 30. ATS chief Jaijeet Singh said bookmaker Gore bought five SIM cards and handed them over to Shinde who had been in contact with Waze since his parole.
The arrests are just the tip of the iceberg, an official said, adding that more suspects, mostly cops, will be apprehended within a day or two. The two defendants not only admitted their roles, but also overthrew Waze and a few other cops who extended logistical support, the official said.
Waze had asked Mansukh to take responsibility for laying the explosives, but he refused, officials said. There are two theories regarding Waze’s reasons for making a case of terror. “Waze would solve the case and become a great cop. Or he and other cops, including a senior officer, were hoping to get into a private security firm started by a company, ”an official said.
Preliminary investigations suggest that Waze eliminated Mansukh because he feared the latter would succumb to pressure and expose the plan. The plot to kill Mansukh was developed on March 2 during a two-hour meeting that Waze held with two colleagues at their headquarters near Crawford Market. It was the same day that Waze asked Mansukh to write a letter through a lawyer alleging he was under pressure from the police and the media, which he was not.
Waze’s phone records established its location near the Ambani residence on the fateful night, an officer said. To build an alibi, he made sure not to receive or make calls from his home phone on March 4, the day of the murder, ATS told Thane court. In fact, there were only 8 messages on his mobile even if it was not switched off. All communication with the accomplices was through SIM cards purchased in Gujarat. To bolster his defense, Waze stayed in Dongri, searching for hotels late into the night on March 4.
The effort to erase the evidence, in fact, began long before. A day after the car was found near the Ambani house, four men from the Waze team visited Mansukh’s store in Thane and took away the DVR connected to his CCTV and installed a new one in its place. .
Sources said that while Waze himself was not involved in Mansukh’s murder, he was coordinating with the killers and a few cops over the phone. The accused police officers and a few individuals from Thane, who have not yet been arrested, reportedly provided logistical support to lure Mansukh to Ghodbunder Road in Thane before attacking him in a moving car and then throwing his body into a stream of Mumbra. The prima facie diatom report indicated that Mansukh was alive when he was thrown into the creek.
“The killers wanted to show that Mansukh had committed suicide but things got out of hand, they left digital footprints like the phone call he received at 8:20 pm on March 4, prompting him to leave the house. He is suspected of having been assaulted in a moving car and his body thrown into the Mumbra stream, ”said a source.
On Saturday, the government announced the transfer of the case to the National investigation agency (NIA). The ATS State has not yet received the order. He could reach ATS on Monday, when he is likely to announce another breakthrough in investigations. The team led by Jaijeet Singh, Additional Commissioner Shivdeep Lande, Deputy Commissioner Rajkumar Shinde, ACP Shripad Kale, Senior Inspector Daya nayak and Dhole have been investigating the case for a week.