The Class of 83 chronicles the adventures of Police Officer, Pradeep Sharma. S. Hussain Zaidi is an expert as regards investigative, crime and terror reporting. The present effort is excellent for the fact that it identifies innumerable characters, until now only enveloped in questionable memories. Excerpt follows.
In the late 1980s, there was only one destination of choice for ambitious, young policeman: Mumbai. Out of 450 cadets in the 83 batch, around 90 were posted in Mumbai. Sharma’s biggest challenge was that he was an outsider. His first partner was Vijay Salaskar. They had kept in touch with each other through their various postings across the city.
Long before Ghajni became the first Bollywood movie to cross the 100-crore mark, there existed another exclusive club which allegedly consisted of policeman who were worth more than a hundred crores. It was called the ‘100-crore club’. The Leela Group of Hotels was owned by Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair. When the underworld started troubling the enterpreneur, Pradeep Sharma ensured the case was resolved in time and the threatening calls were stopped. At the Captain’s insistence, Sharma became a lifetime member of Leela Kempinski.
On 30 August 2008, when Sharma returned home, he was shocked to receive a notice which stated that he was dismissed under Article 311(2) for his alleged nexus with the Mumbai underworld. He was a veteran of over 111 encounters. There was a greater design at play here. Something definitely was fishy about the whole business.
On the night of 26 November 2008, ‘I’ll drive’, Salaskar said and moved into the driver’s seat. This was the costliest mistake on that night committed by any police officer. Salaskar began driving towards Cama and Albless Hospital. As they crossed the Crime Branch building, Abu Ismail and Ajmal Kasab emerged from their hiding place and ambushed the police vehicle, firing a hail of bullets form their automatic weapons. Pradeep Sharma, Salaskar’s former friend turned rival, had tears in his eyes when he heard of Salaskar falling to the bullets of the terrorists. Sharma deeply regrets not being able to fight alongside Salaskar on the night of 26/11; he had been dismissed and was at home on that fateful night.
Finally, in 2017, The Maharasthra Administrative Tribunal reinstated Sharma. On 4 July 2019, Sharma tendered his resignation, expressing his wish to seek voluntary retirement from the service. He is gearing up for his own sublimation to another orbit of power. And time alone will tell the tale.