Police officer Pradeep Sharma
Police officer Pradeep Sharma in 2015 Image Credit: AFP

MUMBAI: India’s real-life Dirty Harry who made his name by gunning down gangsters in the streets of Mumbai has resigned after a colourful career spanning 35 years, an official said on Tuesday.

Police officer Pradeep Sharma, credited with killing 112 gangsters, applied for voluntary retirement which was accepted, a spokesman for Mumbai Police told AFP.

Sharma, 57, was known as an “encounter specialist” — a term widely used in India for quick-draw cops who engage in shoot-outs — and was once dreaded by the Mumbai’s underworld.

Between 1997 and 2003, Sharma and his team gunned down more than 600 gangsters, according to local media reports.

Sharma’s career drew comparisons with the popular Clint Eastwood character and also inspired several Bollywood movies.

In an interview with AFP in 2005, Sharma said he and his colleagues swooped down backstreets and dark alleys, chasing gangsters and shooting them if they refused to surrender.

Nicknamed ‘The Terminator’, Sharma remained a divisive figure through his career. Many hailed him for making Mumbai safer but rights activists accused him of cold-blooded murders.

Sharma’s life took a dramatic turn in 2008 when he was sacked on charges of extorting millions of dollars from the crime syndicates of Mumbai.

He was however reinstated a year later after a tribunal rejected the charges.

He summed up his career in a 2003 Time magazine story where he posed with a machine gun and declared: “Criminals are filth ... and I’m the cleaner.”