In our series Khakhi Legends, this week its about a man who, on the face of it never looked like a cop. He would pass off as a businessman, largely for his bulky body and quiet demeanour. But beneath it lay one of the finest police officials that the state or the country has had.
Ajay Raj Sharma, the 1966 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, who in his various postings, excelled himself and is remembered as the man behind UP's Special Task Force.
When I chanced to meet him first at the UP DGP headquarters in 1999, he was the burly cop who every body seemed to fear in that office located on the Tilak Marg. His big eyes signalled a "I-know-all", "I-have-eyes-everywhere".
He gave away very little in terms of stories or exclusive, but he remained cordial and approachable. He would come across as an elderly in the family, would offer you tea, some biscuits to munch on but nothing beyond. Well, then that is the beauty of a cop - tell nothing, extract everything.
As the man who was given the command of the STF, an anti-mafiosi core group formed at the instructions of Kalyan Singh, the then chief minister of UP, he is remembered for his brilliance.
Egged on by a brilliant team, lead by then then IG Vikram Singh, Ajay Raj Sharma led the team from the front ad ensured the best of criminals were liquidated in no time. He shifted to Delhi for an assignment in the Border Security Force (BSF) and then became the Commissioner of Delhi Police.
He would often share with many about the killing of a sub-inspector Mahabeer Singh in 1970 by a lady dacoit of the Chambal ravines 'Gullo'. The incident when a UP cop was killed, he recalled, was something that tore his heart, lacerated him completely.
That killing, when he was a trainee IPS, changed the way he thought about criminals and possibly his way of "tackling them" in the future too!
Sharma has told a journalist in an interview that the incident made him both: emotional and stubborn! As providence would have it, he was soon given charge to clean up the ravines of the dacoits that were infesting it.
He was given police and other logistical back up and within no time, in broad day light, the police gunned down two big dacoits - Lajjaram Pandit and Kunwarji Gaderia. After a 22-hour gruelling gun battle, 13 gang members were killed, much to the satisfaction of Sharma.
For his grit and determination, Sharma still remains a legend to the men-in-khakhi. We couldn't agree less!