Police officers investigating the alleged murder of Mansukh Hiren, the 46-year-old Thane resident whose stolen Scorpio led to a security scare outside Antilia, the south Mumbai resident of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, believe that his killers were possibly banking on his body not surfacing for a couple of days but were defeated in the designs by the onset of the low tide.
Hiren’s body was found in the Kalwa creek, near Reti Bandar. While the initial investigation pointed to suicide, the discovery of the body with an anti-Covid mask intact on the face, and several handkerchiefs stuffed into the mouth, raised suspicions that this was no suicide. “It is unlikely that a person committing suicide would keep the mask on to save himself from Covid-19,” an officer said.
The police suspect that the intention of the killers — police believe there was more than one — behind stuffing kerchiefs into Hiren’s mouth was to prevent water from entering his body and thus, delay it from surfacing. Police investigators are almost certain that he was killed first and his body tipped into the muddy waters of the creek.
“Once a body fills up with water, it gets bloated and rises up to the surface. We suspect the mask and handkerchiefs were put in to prevent water from entering the body. This would ensure that the body did not emerge and take a few more days for it to be discovered,” the officer said.
But the body did surface, within hours of his going missing. The police surmise that this happened because the tide was ebbing around the time the body was thrown into the creek.
“When it became low tide, the body got stuck and was spotted quite early. It does not appear that it came floating from somewhere far,” the officer said.
Police also believe that two mobile phones used by Hiren were used by his killers to create red herrings. The investigators have found they were switched on and off 30 minutes apart on the night he went missing. While one mobile phone had been switched on and off in Vasai-Virar, the other was switched on and off at Tungareshwar.
From Naupada in Thane, where Hiren lived and ran his car decor business, Vasai-Virar is about 40 km. And Tungareshwar is 10 km further away. Kalwa creek, at Reti Bandar in Mumbra, is just over 5 km from Thane. The police suspect that the killers switched the phones on and off at the two locations to create false location indicators for Hiren.
“It would give an impression that the deceased had gone up to these spots. In reality we suspect, he was murdered by then and his body had already been dumped into the creek,” the officer said.
Initially, Hiren’s son filed a missing person’s complaint with the Naupada police in Thane. An accidental death report (ADR) was registered at Mumbra police station, under whose jurisdiction the body was found. Hiren had left his car decor shop around 8.30 pm on March 4, after getting a phone call.
The caller had identified himself as “Tawde”, and as a policeman investigating the Ambani security scare case. When he did not return till late, his family members tried calling him, but his phone was switched off since 10.30 pm.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh transferred all three cases — the security scare case at Gamdevi police station, the Scorpio vehicle theft case at Vikhroli police station and the ADR at Mumbra police station — to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
On Monday, the National Investigation Agency took over the investigation into the terror scare case outside the Ambani residence while a special task force of the ATS continues to investigate the death of Hiren and the vehicle theft case. Hiren’s death was registered as a case of murder on March 7.