Pradeep Sharma leads crorepati cops into Maharashtra assembly poll fray
Three inspector-ranked candidates all declare assets in crores, with encounter specialist's wealth pegged at a whopping Rs 36 crore
Former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, who is contesting on a Shiv Sena ticket from Nalasopara, has declared assets of an eye-watering Rs 36.21 crore in his poll affidavit. Two other crorepati cops in the political fray are former police inspectors, Shamsher Khan Pathan, with R4.87 crore assets, and Gautam Gaikwad, with assets worth Rs 3.21 crore.
According to 1983 batch police inspector Sharma's affidavit submitted to the Election Commission, while he owns movable assets worth Rs 1.81 crore and zero immovable assets, his wife Swikriti has movable assets worth Rs 14.02 crore and immovable assets worth Rs 20.37 crore. Back in 2015, Sharma had mentioned Rs 1.64 lakh as his income, while that of his wife for the same year had been stated as Rs 1.02 crore in her tax returns filed in 2015-16. But, in 2018-19 Sharma's income jumped manifold, while his wife's income decreased sharply. In his returns for 2018-19, he has mentioned Rs 9.83 lakh as his income, while his wife's has been mentioned as Rs 41.63 lakh.
Gautam Gaikwad and Shamsher Khan
Just like his assets, his liability too seems to be huge. Sharma and his wife have stated a combined liability of Rs 15.13 crore (Sharma, Rs 14.28 lakh and Swikriti Rs 14.99 crore). Speaking to mid-day, Sharma said, "From 2008 to 2017, my wife and I used to run a business. The income is hard earned money through the business. Everything has been declared to the Income Tax authorities. And, an inquiry, too, has been conducted." He further explained that the assets have seen a rise due to appreciation, too. "For instance, the family had purchased a flat at JB Nagar in 1993. The value then was around Rs 5 lakh. The current value is around Rs 3 crore," the encounter specialist stated.
When asked why he chose to join politics, the former cop claimed it was because he wanted to ensure good roads, lighting and infrastructure for Nalasopara citizens. "There are no streetlights and with just two hours of rain, the roads turn into lakes. When I asked voters why they were not asking questions to those responsible for this situation, they claimed that they had no alternative for 30 years, especially because a political terror nexus exists in the region."
Pradeep Sharma was inducted into the Shiv Sena in September. File pic/Sneha Kharabe
He added, "I am here as an alternative and to change the scenario. It is not that I am contesting polls for name and fame. Through my PS Foundation I am already helping the poor and needy. So, for me, this election is just a step to escalate my charity work and not a means to flex muscle or create wealth for myself." Former police officer Shamsher Khan Pathan (1979-80 batch), who is contesting from Mumbadevi on a Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) ticket, told mid-day, "The assets that have been declared are owned by both my wife and I. We have inherited most of the assets from our ancestors. The properties were purchased several decades back when the prices were very low. The R4.87 crore assets mentioned in the affidavit is according to their current value."
In 1989, when Pathan was sub-inspector with the crime branch, he shot into the limelight as he along with his other team members had arrested Chhota Shakeel. VBA candidate from Worli, former inspector Gautam Gaikwad (1976 batch), was, along with a few other police personnel, arrested by the crime branch in May 2015 on charges of helping alleged drug supplier Shashikala Patankar evade capture. But, later in August 2019, Gaikwad, along with all other policemen were discharged from the case. Gaikwad joined the force as constable but was promoted to PSI in 1991. He retired as PI. Speaking to mid-day, Gaikwad said, "The assets are worth crores because of appreciation of property prices. The worth mentioned is its current value. The residential flat that we had purchased in Thane has appreciated in value," Gaikwad stated.
About Pradeep Sharma
Pradeep Sharma is said to have more than 100 encounter killings to his name including three Laskhar-e-Taiba terrorists. Sharma had joined the police force in 1983. However, in 2008, he, along with a few other police personnel, were dismissed from service for alleged links with the underworld and their role in the Lakhan Bhaiya encounter case. Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya was said to be an aide of gangster Chhota Rajan and Gupta's family members claim that the encounter was fake. But, after a long legal battle, the court acquitted Sharma and accordingly, the state home department in 2017 gave its approval for his reinstatement. Sharma immediately joined the anti-extortion cell of Thane police. However, last month he took VRS (voluntary retirement) to join politics. After government accepted his VRS application, Sharma joined the Shiv Sena.
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