Pradeep Sharma, Mumbai’s Encounter Cop Whom the Underworld Fears
Pradeep Sharma is the officer who nabbed Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Iqbal Kaskar, in an extortion case.
Pradeep Sharma, Mumbai Police's 'encounter specialist', is the man responsible for uprooting the underworld nexus spreading terror in Mumbai in the 1990s. Known for chasing and gunning down terrorists and criminals, Sharma's encounter figure stands at a whopping 113. While his name sent waves of fear in the underworld, his work won accolades of the media.
This fame, however, came back to bite him. Sharma was accused of a 'fake encounter' in 2007. While the case hearing continued, Sharma had to give up his uniform. Nine years later, the courts found him innocent and Sharma returned to the Mumbai Police force.
Only a month into his service, Sharma has already nabbed wanted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's brother, Iqbal Kaskar, in an extortion case.
According to sources, a Thane businessman had been receiving phone calls for extortion in Kaskar's name, following which he registered a complaint with the Thane Police Anti-Extortion Cell. Led by Sharma, a team of officers nabbed Kaskar from his sister Haseena Parkar's residence.
According to reports, Kaskar lived in Dubai until 2003. Upon his return to India, he was arrested at the airport. Other than a murder case, Kaskar was also wanted for an extortion case. In 2007, however, he was released by the court due to lack of evidence.
The 'Encounter Specialist' Batch of 1983
Sharma's family originally hails from Uttar Pradesh. His father, Rameshwar Sharma, a teacher by profession, moved to Mumbai with his family, where Sharma cleared the Mumbai Police Service Commission examination.
Sharma was trained under senior officer Arvind Inamdar at the Nashik Police Training Academy. The 1983 batch provided the police force not just Sharma, but several other 'encounter specialists', including Praful Bhonsle, Shivaji Kolekar, and Vijay Salaskar.
Sharma first gained a name at the Mahim Police Station before being promoted to the Special Branch.
The One Whose Name Spread Fear in the Underworld
In the 1990s, there was a spike in gang wars and underworld extortions in Mumbai. Businessmen were afraid to purchase expensive looking cars or even close business deals, as they were frequently targeted by the mafia. In a situation fraught with tension, the then home minister Gopinath Munde ordered a crackdown on these underworld gangs.
How Pradeep Sharma Became an 'Encounter Specialist'
Sharma first made headlines when he killed dreaded gangster Vinod Matkar.
Other than Matkar, Sharma also eliminated gangsters like Parvez Siddiqui, Rafiq Dabbawala, Sadik Kalia, and three LeT militants.
Bollywood Finds Inspiration
Sharma has inspired several characters in Bollywood – the industry that was once plagued by the terror of the underworld.
It is said that Nana Patekar's character in Ram Gopal Varma's Ab Tak Chhappan was inspired by Sharma.
The 9-Year-Long Exile
Sharma was the prime accused in the Lakhan Bhaiya encounter case. Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya was allegedly a close aide of underworld don Chhota Rajan, who was killed on 11 November 2006. His brother, however, alleged he was not killed in an encounter but was abducted from Navi Mumbai. His murder was later staged as an encounter.
Once accused, Sharma was first transferred to the Mumbai Police Control Room, then the Dharavi Police Station, before being ousted from service in 2008.
Before this too, Sharma had been accused of being complicit with the underworld and carrying out encounters at the behest of Dawood Ibrahim.
In 2013, Sharma was acquitted, while 13 other policemen were given life imprisonment by a Mumbai Sessions court.
(This article first appeared on Quint Hindi. It has been translated by Suhasini Krishnan)
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