In a major development, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided and arrested former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma in connection with the ongoing probe into the cases of SUV planting and businessman Mansukh Hiran murder, here on Thursday morning.
Early this morning, an NIA team along with the Mumbai Police, swooped at his Andheri home, carried out searches, and later detained Sharma for questioning after which he was placed under arrest this afternoon.
According to sources, Sharma was arrested on the basis of statements of other accused mentioning his name and evidence in form of technical data pointing towards his possible role in the terror and murder case.
The NIA action came in the sensational case of the SUV with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note abandoned near Antilia, home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani on February 25.
Soon after that, the police recovered the body of the SUV owner from the Thane Creek marshes on March 5, as both the cases triggered a massive political row.
Sharma, a controversial former Senior Police Inspector and later a Shiv Sena activist had been earlier interrogated by the NIA a couple of times last April for the same cases. He is known to be close to former Mumbai Police cop Sachin Vaze, who has been arrested by the central agency as the main conspirator in both cases.
Last week, the NIA had arrested two other persons Santosh Atmaram Shelar and Anand Pandurang Jadhav, both from a slum pocket in Kurar village of Malad east for their roles in the twin cases.
Police sources said that after their custodial interrogation more details of Sharma emerged and culminated in the day’s action.
Pradeep Sharma joined Mumbai Police as sub-inspector in 1983 and has been involved in over 300 encounters related to the Mumbai underworld, out of which, 113 shootouts are in his name.