State nod for Sharma’s exit from police force

Ex-cop to contest polls from Nallasopara

The Home Department on Monday approved the application filed by senior police inspector Pradeep Sharma seeking voluntary retirement from the State police force. Mr. Sharma will contest the Assembly elections on a Shiv Sena ticket from Nallasopara, which is traditionally a stronghold of the Thakur family.

In August, Mr. Sharma had written to the State Home Department as well as the office of the Director General of Police, Maharashtra, expressing his wish to retire from the force. The application has been under consideration since then.

“I have just received word that the government has granted me voluntary retirement. I am waiting to receive a physical copy of the order, after which I will leave charge of my post,” said Mr. Sharma, who is currently heading the anti-extortion cell of the Thane Police.

While Mr. Sharma did not comment on his future plans, sources said the Sena would be pitting him against Kshitij Thakur, the sitting MP in Nallasopara.

“The Thakurs, led by Jayendra alias Bhai Thakur, have been ruling the region for the past 30 years without opposition, primarily on the basis of the fear psychosis created by Bhai Thakur’s criminal antecedents. A strong candidate was needed to break their hold over the people, and Mr. Sharma, who has hunted criminals for the better part of his career, was the best choice,” a source said.

A policeman of the ‘encounter’ era, Mr. Sharma is known for having killed 111 criminals in encounters, till he was dismissed from the force in 2008. He was one of the 16 policemen accused of killing alleged Chhota Rajan henchman Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya in a staged encounter, for which he was arrested in 2009, but was also the only policeman to be acquitted in the case in 2013.

In 2017, the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal reinstated Mr. Sharma and he lost no time in getting back into the limelight, arresting Iqbal Kaskar, the brother of terror accused Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, in a string of extortion cases. Mr. Kaskar, who was charged under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, is still in Thane Central Jail.

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