Maharashtra Encounter Specialist: The Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh has adopted the strategy of encounter to end the mafia raj. The police are catching and thrashing the gangsters. 30 years ago, the Mumbai Police also adopted a similar policy of encounter, after which the gangs of the Mumbai underworld went cold. This strategy gave results but also created monsters in khaki uniform.
Actually, in the nineties, the city of Mumbai was ruled by mafias. Underworld dons like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan, Arun Gawli, Ashwin Naik and Abu Salem used to run their black business in Mumbai on the basis of their terror. There used to be mutual gang war between these gangs, but they used to fire bullets for extortion as well. Extortion calls were made to builders, businessmen, bar owners and filmmakers. The one who did not give money was fired with bullets.
Police used to catch criminals but…
There came a time when the gangsters got so emboldened that they shot and killed a cloth merchant right in front of the police commissioner’s office. The echo of the bullets reached the commissioner’s office. The judicial system seemed unable to rein in the criminals. The police used to catch the criminals, but by threatening the witnesses and erasing the evidence, the criminals used to go free and then indulged in bloodshed.
Gopinath Munde had given a free hand to the police…
After the 1995 assembly elections, a Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government came to power in Maharashtra, with Gopinath Munde as deputy chief minister and home minister. He gave complete freedom to the police to deal with the underworld and told the police officers to do whatever they think is right to eliminate the gangsters but clean Mumbai. After this the process of encounter started. Every other day the police used to kill gangsters of one or the other gang and in alleged encounters.
This strategy of the police to answer the bullet with a bullet started showing results and by the first decade of this century all the gangs of Mumbai have almost gone cold. Most of the gangsters are either dead or behind bars. Now in Mumbai, like in the 90s, there is neither a shootout from the gangster side nor an encounter from the police side.
This strategy has helped Mumbai Police…
This strategy of encounter created a different breed of policemen in Mumbai Police. Media used to call such policemen as encounter specialists because these were the few police officers by whose hands gangsters were shot. The media presented such people as heroes and all these officers became special to the politicians as well. Vijay Salaskar, Pradeep Sharma, Daya Nayak, Sachin Waje and Ravindra Angre became household names.
Encounter specialist police officers eliminated the criminals, but later they themselves got entangled in criminal cases one by one. Pradeep Sharma was first dismissed from the police force on charges of having links with the underworld and then arrested in a fake encounter case of an alleged gangster named Lakhan Bhaiya. Although after some time Sharma was also acquitted of the allegations of fake encounter and relations with the underworld, but in the year 2021, he was arrested again for the murder of a businessman named Mansukh Hiran.
Once upon a time, Inspector Daya Nayak, who was considered the right hand of Pradeep Sharma, also used to have a lot of fame. In the year 2006, Daya Nayak also got caught in controversies when he got a school built in the name of his mother in Karnataka at a cost of crores of rupees. After this, he was arrested on charges of having disproportionate assets. Later Daya Nayak was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
An encounter specialist named Sachin Waje…
Pradeep Sharma’s team also had an encounter specialist named Sachin Waje. In the year 2004, he was arrested for the custodial murder of an accused named Khwaja Yunus. He was suspended after his arrest. Meanwhile, he joined the Shiv Sena and in 2020, Uddhav Thackeray’s government ended his suspension and took him back to the police service. The very next year, the NIA arrested him for parking a car full of explosives outside Mukesh Ambani’s house, Antilia.
Ravindra Angre was also a big name among encounter specialist officers. Angre killed 52 alleged gangsters but was arrested in 2009 for trying to extort money from a builder in Thane. Angre was later acquitted but had to spend 14 months in jail.
It is alleged by all such encounter specialist officers that they eliminated the criminals by risking their lives and taking legal risks. Big officials and politicians used them when they were needed. They were removed from the way when the need was over.
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