Chavan says encounter cop `blot on uniform`

Maharashtra CM lashed out at Pradeep Sharma as he was sent to police custody till Jan 14.

Updated: Jan 09, 2010, 00:23 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister on Friday called the arrested encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma a ‘blot on the police uniform.’ Sharma and two constables were arrested and sent to police custody till January 14 in connection to an alleged fake encounter case.

The arrests were made, late Thursday, after the Bombay High Court ordered a probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged fake encounter of gangster Lakhan Bhaiya – thought to be a close associate of underworld don Chhota Rajan - in Nov 2006 near Nana-Nani Park in suburban Versova.

Talking to the media, Chavan said he was not aware if any immediate action what- if any- action was being taken against the cop. He said whoever indulges in such behaviour should be and will be punished.

"Such incidents have left a blot on image of the police
force. The government has taken action whenever they (police)
have been found to be at fault,” he added.

"We have given full freedom to police department and
if anything goes wrong, we will certainly take action," Chavan

Those arrested include police constables Tanaji Desai and Ratnakar Kamble, and Sharma`s informers Shailendra Pandey, Akhilesh and Hitesh.

Besides the policemen, two civilians have also been arrested in connection with the case; all of them will be produced in court on Friday.

Pradeep Sharma was one of Mumbai Police’s most celebrated encounter specialists. In his 25-year career with the Mumbai Police, he has shot dead 107 criminals.

Sharma and the five others were presented before an Andheri magistrate court here Friday evening.

Pleading for police custody of Sharma and the other arrested, the police prosecutor urged the court that since the matter is over three years old and since even a magistrate had been threatened in the case, the investigators needed them for further probe into the killing.

The Bombay HC order for an SIT probe came after Lakhan’s brother advocate Ram Prakash Gupta filed a petition in the High Court alleging that the victim had been shot dead in cold blood by the police team headed by Sharma.

In his petition, Gupta had alleged that Mumbai encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma staged an encounter of ‘alleged’ gangster Lakhan Bhaiya or Ram Narain Gupta in 2006.

A SIT team headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police M M Prasanna had carried out the investigation into the allegations.

However, Sharma has denied all charges levelled against him and alleged that he was being framed by the underworld.
Last year in August, Bombay High Court had also directed that an FIR be lodged against 17 policemen including Pradeep Sharma in connection with the case. The HC bench had then observed that the bullet was hit from point blank range.

Sharma was part of the squad that staged the encounter. Then Police Commissioner A N Roy had filed an affidavit tendering an apology in the case.
The Maharashtra government had later dismissed Sharma after he was accused of having links with the underworld, corruption and amassing huge properties in his name among other things.

Expressing satisfaction over the developments, Ramprasad Gupta told mediapersons that justice was finally being done in the case after many years of his efforts.