Antilia case: Pradeep Sharma plotted Mansukh Hiran's 'cold-blooded murder'
Mumbai, May 4 (IANS) The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named dismissed police officer Pradeep Sharma as the 'main conspirator' in the "cold-blooded murder" of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, in its affidavit in the case pertaining to planting a SUV with 20 gelatin sticks outside Antilia, the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
Aware of the entire conspiracy, the NIA told the Bombay High Court that Hiran was considered the 'weak link' in the larger conspiracy to terrorise the billionaire Ambani family, when the SUV was discovered on February 25, 2021, sending shockwaves across the country.
Opposing the bail plea of Sharma - nabbed on June 17, 2021 and currently in judicial custody - the NIA affidavit said he was not innocent and had committed offences of criminal conspiracy, murder and terror acts.
A division bench comprising Justice A. S. Chandurkar and Justice G. A. Sanap has kept Sharma's bail plea -- challenging the Special NIA Court's rejection of his bail application in February 2022 -- for further hearing on July 17.
"Pradeep Sharma was an active member of a gang that had conspired to terrorise people, including the Ambani family, and murdered Hiran as he was a weak link in the conspiracy," said the NIA, adding that Sharma and other accused were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for heinous and serious offences.
Hiran was aware of the entire conspiracy of parking the SUV outside Antilia that day and the accused (Sharma and co-conspirator and sacked cop Sachin Vaze) feared that he (Hiran) could spill the beans making it difficult for the duo to gather the fruits of the larger plot.
The NIA said that from the evidence gathered, it was crystal clear that Sharma was directly involved in the crime and committed offences of conspiracy, terrorist act, being member of a terror gang, kidnapping, murder and destruction of evidence.
It said Sharma willingly and intentionally entered into a well-organised criminal conspiracy for the execution of Hiran which was a direct outcome of the terror acts committed by Vaze and the other accused.
The NIA also claimed that Hiran was eliminated after he refused to take the blame for parking the SUV outside Antilia.
"When Hiran refused to take blame for the crime, Vaze hatched a conspiracy with Sharma and other accused to kill Hiran so that he does not divulge that Vaze was the one who parked the vehicle outside Antilia," the NIA said in its affidavit.
The larger conspiracy in the case involved parking of the SUV, and circulating threat letters in the name of 'Jaish-ul-Hind' to terrorise the Ambani family and local people.
The NIA pointed out that after killing Hiran, the accused (Sharma-Vaze) attempted to show it as a suicide. Shockingly, Sharma had attended meetings in the Commissioner of Police premises where the alleged conspiracy was hatched.
As the main conspirator, Sharma hired henchmen to kill Hiran by paying Rs 45 lakhs he had got from Vaze, and after the murder, asked the co-accused to flee from Mumbai to Nepal.
The NIA argued that Sharma was famous as an 'encounter specialist', influential and if released on bail, he would tamper with the evidence and influence the witnesses.