With sharpshooters Rajbir and Sharma gone, double loss for Delhi Police

September 20th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) The year 2008 has brought a double whammy to the anti-terrorist squad of Delhi Police. It has lost two ace sharpshooters - Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rajbir Singh in March and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in Friday’s shootout. Both lived by the gun and eventually died by it and together had nearly 90 ‘kills’ to their credit. Singh and Sharma were part of the ‘Dirty Harry squad’ of the Delhi Police and the face of the counter terrorism operations in the capital.

While Singh was allegedly killed by a property dealer in March, Sharma succumbed to bullet injuries during a firefight with suspected terrorists in Jamia Nagar in south Delhi Friday.

“Both were sharpshooters of the Delhi Police’s anti-terror Special Cell and were the strength of the department due to their expertise in analyzing intelligence inputs and anti-terrorist operations,” a Delhi Police official said.

Both had developed a vast network of informers and often received valuable tip-offs from their informers, who they assiduously cultivated over the years.

The word “encounter” entered the lexicon in the mid-1990s when gangsters from western Uttar Pradesh began making forays into the capital. Rajbir Singh and Mohan Chand Sharma were among the most prominent “encounter specialists” at the time.

The Special Cell was formed in 1986, when militancy in Punjab was at its height, with an office in the backyard of the Lodhi Road Police Station. For nearly a decade, however, the unit remained in complete anonymity.

A change was ushered in 1998 when Ashok Chand was appointed its Deputy Commissioner of Police. Rajbir Singh, who had by then earned a name for himself as “encounter specialist”, was posted as the Assistant Commissioner Police.

Singh handpicked Mohan Chand Sharma along with Badrish Dutt, Lalit Mohan Negi, Hridya Bhushan and several others for his team.

Sharma, the 44-year-old Special Cell inspector, is one of the most decorated officers.

Sharma had joined as a sub-inspector in 1989 and soon proved himself to be a cop with his nose to the ground.

“During his career, Sharma won seven gallantry awards and was involved in more than 75 gun battles, several involving dreaded terrorists and gangsters from the badlands of Uttar Pradesh,” said a police officer.

Besides his work in the force, Sharma also carried out operations in Jammu and Kashmir with another special cell ACP (assistant commissioner of police) Sanjeev Yadav that earned appreciation from the central intelligence agencies.

For Rajbir Singh, his rise from a sub inspector to a high profile ACP of the Delhi Police was as sensational as the violent end to his life. Rajbir Singh, who has over 50 ‘kills’ to his credit, was murdered March 25 - ending a career that was as controversial as it was illustrious.

Singh had courted many controversies during his otherwise remarkable career that began in 1982 when he entered the Delhi Police as a sub inspector.

Singh, the only officer in Delhi Police so far to be promoted to the rank of ACP in just 13 years, was the man instrumental in cracking the 2001 parliament attack case and the Red Fort attack in 2000.

Two terrorists were shot dead, one arrested while two managed to escape in the Jamia Nagar firefight in south Delhi.

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