Suresh Khopade, retired inspector-general of police, is no stranger to confrontation, having being shot five times by a marauding pair of dacoits in Panvel besides facing a departmental inquiry for blowing the whistle against senior IPS officials in a 33-year career with the Maharashtra police.
Khopade, 63, will now confront the Pawar family as the AAP candidate in Baramati, where Supriya Sule had won in 2009 with the highest margin, 3.3 lakh votes. It was then chief minister Sharad Pawar, ironically, who had personally recommended him for a gallantry medal.
“There is need for reform in politics,” he explained his decision to contest. “I was born in this district.”
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In 1980, as a subdivisonal police officer in Panvel, Khopade was shot five times by dacoit brothers Ram and Shyam operating for 22 years in the Panvel-Thane belt. The initial sensation felt like an antbite, said Khopade, who shot the brothers down.
Khopade is credited with having launched mohalla committees for communal harmony. This was when he was posted as DC in Bhiwandi in the 1980s. “ It is a group of people chosen by the police for the protection and development of the people of the mohalla, ward or village. Every area which had seen a Hindu-Muslim conflict had a committee.” This model was replicated across the state after the 1993 riots.
Elevated to IPS, he faced off with senior officials directly recruited, whom he called casteist and victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He called former Mumbai CP Manuvadi.He faced a government inquiry after retiring in 2011.