Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pradeep Sharma's Close Encounters Of The So-Corrupt-You're-Fired Kind

The Mumbai Encounter Squad has always been something of a mystery to me. Since the 1980's, it has seemingly been an entire police outfit dedicated to provoking action-packed shootouts with gangsters.

While critics have blasted Encounter Squad for Dirty Harry-style vigilantism and have accused the police of concluding that this method was more efficient than court, a substantial portion of the public and the media in India continue to portray them as heroes. At over 112 confirmed kills (they keep score like American GI's in Vietnam), Pradeep Sharma was the most famous Encounter Squad member and now he has been fired due to corruption allegations. Unlike the rest of Mumbai's 39,000-strong police force—who detained 1,290 gangsters legally and without being dramatized in Bollywood movies—Sharma (pictured) is now following fellow MES officer Daya Nayak on the infamy downslope.

Fittingly, Sharma is being fired rather than charged with these crimes because it is ultimately "more efficient" than making those accusations stick:
A senior police officer corroborated his chief’s version, saying the decision was based on a variety of factors, including Sharma’s role as a middleman between gangster Chhota Shakeel and the builder mafia. “Telephonic interceptions have revealed that Sharma used to negotiate extortion threats received by builders and businessman. He also used to negotiate land deals. We wanted to put an end to this,’’ he said. Another officer said Sharma “is worth over Rs 3,000 crore’’. Although convinced about his underhand activities, the police knew that it would be difficult to prove them in court. Therefore, the government invoked Article 311 of the Indian constitution whereby an officer can be dismissed without holding an inquiry in such situations. This is also one of the rare cases in which the deputy chief minister took an active interest in ensuring the dismissal of a police inspector.
I'm sure Sharma is going to have no trouble finding an employer for his talents in the private sector, maybe even in construction.

[Via The Times of India]

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