Once a policeman,  always a policeman: Pradeep Sharma

Once a policeman,  always a policeman: Pradeep Sharma

As he travels through the length and breadth of the urban conglomeration of Vasai-Virar belt - in the far western suburbs of Mumbai,  'encounter specialist' Pradeep Sharma gets a rousing welcome.

Men, women, youth, kids flock around him for a selfie. After all,  he is the dashing police officer,  who had eliminated 112 criminals including underground dons,  gangsters and terrorists in 36 years of service. Sharma,  an officer of the famed 1983-batch of the Maharashtra State Police Service,  had recently taken VRS and joined Shiv Sena in presence of Uddhav Thackeray - and all set to contest the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly polls from Nalasopara.

"Once a policeman,  always a policeman," Sharma tells DH's Mrityunjay Bose in an interview.

Following are the excerpts of the interview:

Q. You have left the police force to join politics. How has been this transformation? 

The day I left the police force,  it was the most difficult day in life. It was difficult to realise that I am no longer in (police) force. But we must remember - once a policeman, always a policeman. I may have joined politics but you cannot take the police officer out of me.

Q. When did you decide to join politics? 

Within hours of leaving police,  I joined politics. But,  I have been doing social work for long through my foundation. It is just an extension of social work. I will do 99 % social work and 1 per cent politics. For me, politics is a platform to serve people.

Q. Why did you choose Shiv Sena among so many parties? 

Shiv Sena was the natural choice for me. I am made for Shiv Sena and Shiv Sena for me. I had the blessings of Balasaheb (Thackeray). He had been with me in my good times and bad times. Uddhavji had come for my daughter's marriage.

Q. What difference you experience now? 

Life is different now. I carefully watch each and every road signal now. As a policeman, I did several operations and always was on the move,  fast and going.

Q. As a politician what would be your plan of action.

I will be doing whatever my party chief wants me to do. If he tells me to contest from Gadchiroli or Nalasopara or any other place I will do that or whatever he asks me to do. I was a police officer,  I followed orders of superiors. I have a policeman in me. 

Q. What changes you would like to see in the Vasai-Nalasopara-Virar area?

For 30 years,  the Vasai-Nalasopara-Virar belt has seen 'kushashan' (misrule).  In monsoon,  in one hour of heavy rains,  roads get filled up. What is this?  We are part of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Like Navi Mumbai,  Vasai-Nalasopara-Virar is also a satellite city,  thickly populated.  The region has seen many problems,  people of underworld joined politics.  

Q. As a policeman, you were known as a dare-devil officer. You have killed 112 criminals in police encounters. You carry the image of an 'encounter specialist'.

I dedicated my life to make Mumbai safe,  people safe. I will see that people are safe. As far as encounters are concerned,  it happens. We just respond to the situation. I would say that I was lucky and was never at the receiving end.

Q. Your name figured in a fake encounter case.

My name was dragged in the (Lakhan Bhaiya) encounter case.  I was dragged by vested interest people.  I have come out clean. The courts have cleared me. During my service,  I had taken on gangs of Dawood Ibrahim,  Chhota Rajan and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. I worked for 18 hours,  every day. I will be in politics with the same level of dedication.