'Spent jail term in hospital': Ex-encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma lands in controversy

Former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, who is contesting the upcoming Maharashtra polls as Shiv Sena candidate, has landed up in a controversy. A video is doing rounds on social media in which Sharma is purpotedly seen saying he spent majority of his jail term in a hospital instead of a prison.

The 1983-batch state police service officer, who opted for voluntary retirement earlier this year, made this admission while addressing a rally in Nallasopara area of neighbouring Palghar district earlier this week. A purported video of his speech is making the rounds on social media.

In the video, Sharma is purportedly seen admitting that Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who is currently a Cabinet minister in the BJP-led state government, helped him during his difficult time. "During the tough period of my life, Shinde saheb helped me a lot...during the jail term of three-and-a-half years, I spent two-and-a-half years in hospital, it was only because of his help," he said.

After controversy broke out, Sharma released a video in which he clarified that he had spent two-and-a-half-months in hospital and that two-and-a-half-years was a slip of the tongue. He said that Shinde had just given him moral support and he was an MLA and not a minister then.

The former police officer, who has more than 100 encounters to his name, was arrested in an alleged fake encounter of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, a member of Chhota Rajan's gang, in 2006. He was awarded imprisonment for three-and-a-half years and later sacked by the state government from service in 2008. A sessions court in 2013 acquitted him in the case, and he was reinstated in the police force in 2017. Sharma, who was heading the anti-extortion cell of Thane police in his last posting, opted for voluntary retirement earlier this year.

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