Maharashtra BJP MLA Nitesh Rane on Monday alleged that suspended Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze and state minister Aditya Thackeray's cousin Varun Sardesai were part of an IPL betting racket, and demanded that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) includes this angle in its probe of the bomb scare matter near businessman Mukesh Ambani's residence.

Responding to the allegations, Sardesai, the secretary of Yuva Sena called the allegations "baseless" and threatened to file a defamation suit against Rane.

Rane, the son of former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, claimed to have information that Vaze was allegedly involved in extorting money from bookies active in Mumbai for allowing them to run illegally.

Nitesh Rane
BJP MLA Nitesh Rane addressing a press conference in Mumbai on March 15.

"There're bookies in Mumbai who starts operating before start of IPL. We have information that these bookies were contacted by Sachin Waze. They were told if they didn't give a certain amount of money as per their capacity, we (Vaze) would ensure that they get busted, investigated and arrested," Rane told news agency ANI after a press conference in Mumbai.

He alluded to possessing a call recording purportedly between Vaze and Sardesai in which they allegedly talked about the IPL betting racket and extortion of money from them.

Rane said, "There is one Varun Sardesai who has got Y+ security from Maharashtra government and is related with the government. He had contacted (Sachin Vaze) & his conversation with Vaze is also there. He had said - 'why are you demanding this (extortion), what is our share?' This angle should be investigated by NIA".

Yuva Sena Secretary Varun Sardesai
Yuva Sena Secretary Varun SardesaiTwitter@SardesaiVarun

Addressing a press conference, Sardesai said that he would give some time to Rane to apologize for making wild allegations against him, failing to which he would file a defamation case.

"Nitesh Rane has made baseless allegations against me. People know the history of the Rane family so I don't need to say much on that. I will give time to him to apologise and he does not, I will go ahead with my decision to file a criminal defamation case against him," Sardesai told a press conference on Monday evening.

Who is Sachin Vaze?

Sachin Vaze was Assistant Police Inspector in the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai Police Crime Branch until a few days ago when he was moved out of the CIU following a huge uproar in the state Assembly by BJP MLAs.

Vaze was initially the in-charge of the investigation in the case of recovery of gelatin sticks from a Scorpio car near Mukesh Ambani's residence, Antilia in Mumbai last month. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has alleged that he was linked to the death of Mansukh Hiren, a scrap dealer who was found dead days after it came to light that the car in which gelatin sticks were found had been in his custody before the incident.

Sachin Vaze
Suspended police officer Sachin Vaze

This is not the first time Vaze has been suspended. Famous encounter specialist, Vaze was suspended 16 years ago and was reinstated months ago due to staff shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaze has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency, which has taken over the investigation of the bomb scare case from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).