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New Twist: Pradeep Sharma approached BJP leader in Mumbai hotel to reinstate protege Sachin Vaze




As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probes deep into the extortion racket, fresh evidence is pouring in on the close affiliation between suspended cop Sachin Vaze and his mentor, Pradeep Sharma, also known as the ‘encounter king’ of the Mumbai Police.

A prominent leader and Bharatiya Janata Party MLA told IANS that Sharma had reportedly approached the BJP government to reinstate his protege Vaze in 2016.

The BJP MLA, requesting anonymity, said: “The meeting took place at Hotel Leela Kempinski located near the Mumbai airport. Sharma, a well known personality of the Mumbai Crime Branch known for executing innumerable police encounters, had personally come to the hotel for the said meeting. He requested a BJP leader to reinstate his protege and former subordinate Vaze in the police department. But the BJP government had outrightly rejected the request.

“After Sharma’s efforts turned futile, the Shiv Sena’s top leadership approached the BJP for reinstating Vaze in the police department. This request was too rejected on the grounds that he was involved in court cases of serious nature.”

Meanwhile NIA sleuths are gathering more evidence against Sharma who allegedly provided logistic support to Vaze in planting the explosive-laden SUV near Antilia, the multi-storey residence of top industrialist Mukesh Ambani in South Mumbai.

During his questioning, Vaze has indicated that he procured gelatin sticks, used as explosives in this case, through Sharma’s contact, a revelation which obviously requires documentary evidence to be proved in court.

Commenting on Sharma’s close relations with Vaze, BJP spokesperson Ram Kadam said: “I do not wish to comment on the criminal nexus of these police officers… But I can at least confirm that Sharma was Vaze’s mentor, a fact known to everyone in the police.”

Sharma, who resigned from his high profile police job to contest the Assembly polls on a Shiv Sena ticket in 2019, runs an NGO, PS Foundation, which has blessings of several police officers including Vaze.

He has been a frequent visitor to Vaze’s Crime Branch office, housed in the sprawling Mumbai Police headquarters building.

“What makes Sharma a prima facie suspect in the case, is not just his affiliation with Vaze, but his few crucial meetings with the accused, which were held after the execution of crime. These meetings indicate that Sharma was trying to help Vaze, who was caught on camera, while planting a threat letter in the explosive laden vehicle,” said an officer of the Mumbai Police associated with the probe of Mansukh Hiran murder case.

Sources said that Vaze’s erstwhile boss in the Crime Branch, Sharma, had met his former subordinate at the Mumbai Police headquarters in the first week of March.

Besides meeting Vaze, Sharma had also seen Vinayak Shinde, an accused along with Vaze in murder of Hiran, whose SUV was used in planting explosives.

Shinde, a tainted constable had earlier worked with Sharma and was reportedly introduced to Vaze through the encounter specialist.

Sources said that another important meeting between Vaze and Sharma was held outside the Crime Branch office, probably somewhere in western suburbs of Mumbai.

After a series of such meetings, Vaze was subsequently not seen in his office for days, and was finally arrested by the NIA on the night of March 13.

It is perceived that Sharma and Vaze were close since their early days in the police department. Later the encounter duo came close to the Shiv Sena leadership.

It was initially Vaze who joined Shiv Sena in 2007 and was appointed as party spokesperson. In late 2019, when the Shiv Sena came to power in Maharashtra, Vaze, who was placed under suspension for years, got reinstated in service by the state government in 2020.

Close on the heels of Vaze, Sharma too resigned from police service and joined Shiv Sena in 2019. He was given a ticket by the party to contest from the Nallasopara seat but lost the polls.

However Sharma’s relations with Vaze and Shiv Sena grew more stronger. No wonder, Sharma was spotted in all important functions of Shiv Sena leaders held in Mumbai.

Both Sharma and Vaze had gunned down dozens of sharpshooters of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. While Vaze claimed to have killed 63 gangsters in police encounters, Sharma reportedly eliminated over 300 criminals in his 35-year-old police career.

Sharma who has a large following in police, is also known as “Encounter King” by his team members for killing the highest numbers of wanted gangsters. Scripts of several Bollywood films, including “Ab tak Chappan”, “Satya”, “Company” and many more were inspired by Sharma’s action against the dreaded Mumbai underworld dons.


Marathi actor nabbed for ‘vile posts’ against Maharashtra minister




A small-time Marathi actor has been arrested in Thane for allegedly posting objectionable posts on the Facebook page of Maharashtra Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde, officials said on Tuesday.

The accused, identified as Mayuresh Kotkar, who has acted in some Marathi serials and films, was nabbed following a complaint lodged by Shiv Sena corporator Yogesh Jankar.

Jankar, in his complaint last Friday, said that Kotkar posted allegedly defamatory and inciteful content on the Facebook page of the minister which could have triggered violence between communities.

Following the plea, the Shreenagar police station investigated the matter and nabbed Kotkar. He was produced before a Thane court which sent him to judicial custody.

The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi has been criticised over Kotkar’s arrest by several prominent personalities on social media.

The posts pertained to the proposal for the naming of the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport after the Shiv Sena founder-patriarch, Balasaheb Thackeray, who passed away in 2012.

Local villagers, comprising the Agri community, are strongly opposed to the proposal and have demanded that the airport should be named after a prominent local leader, Peasants & Workers Party (PWP) senior functionary and parliamentarian, Dinkar B. Patil, who had passed away in 2012.

Last week, the villagers protested by forming a 12-km-long human chain and have now threatened to lay a siege of the Konkan Bhavan on June 24 if their demand is not conceded.

Kotkar had joined the Agri protests and had also made several posts on social media networks, but after the Sena complaint, police deleted some of the objectionable content.

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Antilia SUV case: NIA nabs two suburban residents




The National Investigation Agency has arrested two more persons in connection with the probe into the sensational cause of a SUV planted with gelatin sticks near Antilia building and the murder of its owner, officials said here on Tuesday.

The duo has been identified as Santosh Atmaram Shelar and Anand Pandurang Jadhav, both residents of the Kurar village, a slum pocket in Malad east suburb.

Arrested four days ago, they were produced before a Special NIA Court and remanded to the agency’s custody till June 21.

Though the extent of their involvement and their exact role is being ascertained in the two cases, both Jadhav and Shelar are suspected to be part of the overall conspiracy of the cases which sparked off a massive row in Feb this year.

Earlier, the NIA has arrested a total of five persons including ex-police personnel like Sachin Vaze, Riyazuddin Kazi, Sunil Mane, a convicted former cop Vinayak Shinde besides a cricket bookie Naresh Gor, and with two more nabbed, the total number of arrested accused has gone up to 7 now.

The fresh arrests came shortly after the Special NIA Court granted a two-month extension to the agency to file its chargesheet in the case.

It may be recalled that on Feb. 25, the mystery SUV with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note to India’s premier businessman Mukesh Ambani and his family was found near his Antilia home.

A week later on March 5, the body of the SUV owner and Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran was recovered from the marshes of Thane Creek, as the twin cases triggered a nationwide political furore.

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Boyfriend and two others kill girl for resisting rape




A first year B.Sc student was stabbed 24 times by her boyfriend and his two friends after she resisted a rape attempt.

Three youths, including the deceased’s friend, Mohammed Kaif, of Sarojini Nagar area, have been arrested in this connection on Monday. The other two arrested are Vishal and Akash.

According to reports, Kaif had called the girl on a date and picked her up from near her house.

The girl’s father was not at home and her mother had gone to their native house in Sitapur.

DCP, central, Somen Barma said, “Kaif told the police that his friends came to know about his meeting with the girl since he was talking to her on phone in their presence. As per plan, Kaif used the bike of Vishal’s brother to reach the forest area in Gahru village along with his friends. After dropping his friends there, he went to pick up the girl and then moved towards the spot where his friends were waiting for them. When Kaif along with the girl reached the spot they all overpowered her and tried to rape her.”

Kaif confessed that the girl was shell-shocked at the turn of events and she threatened to lodge a complaint with the police. She somehow freed herself from their clutches and started running away.

The accused chased and caught her. His friend Akash pinned her down and Vishal stabbed her several times, killing her on the spot, the police officer said.

Akash Yadav and Vishal Kashyap have also been arrested and the police have recovered the knife which the accused used in stabbing the victim.

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