Mumbai: In a major twist to the mystery of a car filled with explosives found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai home, the reported owner of the Scorpio SUV was found dead today.
Hiren Mansukh, 45, was found near a creek near Mumbai, according to a Thane police officer quoted by news agency ANI. He had been missing since last night, according to his family. A case of accidental death has been filed.
The sensational development saw the opposition BJP in the Maharashtra assembly demanding that the case be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, significantly, said even Mansukh was not the owner of the car and that he had been commissioned to work on it.
Shiv Sena leader and minister Aditya Thackeray told reporters: “We just learnt about this. It is a very big incident and the police are investigating.” Asked whether his government would hand over the investigation to the NIA, he said: “We can, according to the rules. It will be more appropriate for the state home minister to speak on this.”
The SUV was found abandoned around 1.4 km from Antilia, Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey home in south Mumbai, after midnight last Wednesday. A bomb disposal squad found 20 gelatin sticks – material used in explosives – hours later, besides a handwritten letter addressed to the Reliance chairman and Nita Ambani.
A day later, the police learnt that the SUV was stolen and said its owner lived in Vikhroli, another part of the city.
The police had recorded the statement of Mansukh, a spare car parts businessman who reported the car stolen.
The car had some number plates and a Mumbai police spokesperson said the number plate of the SUV matched that of a car on Mukesh Ambani’s security detail.
A man in a mask and a hoodie was seen in security footage parking the car, but he was not identified. The police also saw CCTV footage of the car moving through the city, followed by an Innova car that is also being investigated.
The gelatin was not military grade but of the commercial kind that is usually used in construction, digging or mining, police sources said.