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Encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma set for poll debut in Maharashtra, likely to join Shiv Sena

FE Online
Pradeep Sharma, encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma

Days after Maharashtra government accepted the resignation of encounter specialist police officer Pradeep Sharma, speculations are rife that he may soon join the Shiv Sena of Udahav Thackeray and contest the upcoming Assembly elections from Nalasopara constituency in Palghar district.

On Tuesday, Sharma visited the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai where he offered special prayers to Lord Ganesh. Speaking to reporters outside the temple, Sharma, however, didn’t confirm that his resignation was accepted, but accepted that he too has heard that the state government has accepted his papers.

Without elaborating further about his new innings, Sharma said that he will speak in detail once he receives a confirmation about the acceptance of his resignation. He, however, dropped ample hints that he may join the Shiv Sena.

"You will get to know about this in a day or two," he told ABP news when asked about his political aspirations.

Sharma earned the tag of encounter specialist for reportedly neutralising more than 150 criminals in his career spanning 35 years. He was heading the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Thane police when he applied for Voluntary Retirement in July this year. Sharma was due to retire from service in May 2020.

Sharma once featured on the cover page of reputed Time magazine. He shot to fame in 90s when gang war was at its peak in Mumbai and the government allowed the police a free hand to neutralise the criminals.

The 1983-batch IPS officer was sacked from the service by the state government in 2008 for his alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and role in encounter case. Sharma was, however, acquitted by a sessions court in 2013 in a fake encounter case. He was reinstated in police in 2017 and successfully led an operation to arrest Dawood’s brother Iqbal Kaskar.

Notably, Sharma had met BJP president Amit Shah just ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections in 2014, triggering talks that the saffron party may field him in the elections. However, Sharma didn’t join the BJP.