MUMBAI: The crime branch, which is probing the case of an explosives-laden vehicle found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence, has not ruled out a terror angle.
Mumbai joint CP (crime) Milind Bharambe said police are probing all aspects, including the possibility of a terror plot. The National Investigation Agency has joined the probe and recorded the statement of a businessman Hiren Mansukh, who owned the stolen vehicle which was found with gelatin sticks and a threatening note. Bharambe said they are scanning CCTV footage of the past one or two weeks in case the suspects had done a recce.
Another senior official said, “When there is a terror attack or terror organisations are involved, they often claim responsibility. Twenty-four hours have passed, nobody has claimed, but that does not rule out the terror angle.” Police said the 20 gelatin sticks weighing 2.5kg had the explosive potential for an impact that could have been felt over an area of 3,000sqft.
Police said another vehicle, an Innova, was tailing the SUV from Thane to Carmichael Road, where Ambani’s bungalow Antilia is located. The Innova also had a fake registration number and is yet to be traced.
The Scorpio owned by the Thane businessman was stolen on February 17 from the Mulund-Airoli route where it was parked due to a technical snag. Police said the gelatin sticks found in the vehicle were manufactured by a Nagpur company named Solar Industries, but the firm has no system of tracking individual explosive cartridges. A sports bag bearing the Mumbai Indians logo was also found in the vehicle.
The Scorpio and Innova crossed the Mulund check naka at 1.20am, passed Priyadarshini Circle at Chunabhatti, Dadar, Byculla, before reaching Carmichael Road at 2.18am. On its way back, the Innova crossed the Mulund check naka at 3.20am, police said, adding it had the driver of the Scorpio in it.
Teams are working to find out what happened between February 17, when the Scorpio was reported stolen, and February 24, when it was found near Ambani’s residence. Police said attempts were made to erase the chassis and engine number. No information is available on the Innova, police said.
An officer said they have recorded the statement of a security personnel who noticed it parked near the Ambani residence and enhanced the family’s security. “We have not decided yet about recording the statement of someone from the Ambani family,” a police officer said.
What has baffled investigators is that four numberplates found in the Scorpio were the same as those of vehicles in the Ambani security convoy and one used by Nita Ambani.
A Reliance Industries spokesperson said, “We are thankful to Mumbai Police for their quick and immediate action. We are confident that Mumbai Police will complete their thorough investigation quickly.”
Gamdevi police late on Thursday registered an FIR against unidentified persons under Sections 286 (negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance), 465 (punishment for forgery), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc, with intent to commit forgery punishable otherwise), 506 II (punishment for criminal intimidation), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under Section 4 (punishment for attempt to cause explosion, or for making or keeping explosive with intent to endanger life or property) of Explosive Substances Act 1908.
(With inputs by Shishir Arya)