Ashok Sheoran was arrested last Tuesday in connection with an alleged extortion and dacoity racket in Panipat.
According to his colleagues and friends, the 40-year-old Additional Superintendent of Police and head of Haryana's Special Task Force (STF) stands out for his lust for good life and his alleged role in fake encounters and extortions.
Sheoran, who belongs to an influential Haryana family with strong connections in various political parties, directly joined the police force as a Deputy Superintendent of Police at an early age of 20.
The job was offered to him by the state in the form of an ex-gratia appointment on grounds of compassion after his father, a teacher in the state education department, died while in service in 1989.
A controversy raised its head soon after. In 1990, Sheoran was still under training when "he was accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 1,900 and warned for indiscipline".
Controversies came and went. He faced charges of sheltering noted criminals and conducting controversial encounters. But no action was ever taken against him. In another controversial incident, Sheoran "lost" his service revolver in an encounter. The same weapon later landed in the hands of a property dealer who killed Delhi police's encounter specialist Rajbir Singh in Gurgaon in 2008.
Despite strengthening ties with leaders of various political parties after he became an officer, Sheoran was promoted only once in 20 years of service.
But two years ago, the controversial cop - born and raised in Ghaggarwas village in Bhiwani and accused of extorting money with help from other policemen and a few of his close friends -was handpicked by the Haryana police to head the STF.
His role? To crack down on criminals and organised gangs in the state.
“A 1989-batch officer of Haryana Police Service, Ashok is known as a rough and tough officer who preferred to work without uniform to probably try and build a poster boy image,” a senior police officer said.
Those who have known him for long claim Ashok is flashy. He would show off his service pistol by tucking it in his pants in such a manner that it was visible to one and all.
The task force has been dissolved now and most officers shy away from discussing Sheoran.
Panipat SSP Rajinder Singh, who is overseeing investigations, said it was unfortunate to have an officer such as Sheoran heading a specially constituted team.
“His credentials always remained doubtful and his reputation is well in the public domain,” Singh said.
Those who know Sheoran closely recall him as someone who was below average in studies. He completed his BA from some university outside Haryana.
The Sheorans owned a cinema hall in Charkhi Dadri in the 80s.
“He used to spend all his time there with a gang of local youth,” an old friend recalled.
His father's elder brother Ram Narayan was looked upon as an upright IAS officer, who later joined the Devi Lal clan and was elected as the Member of Parliament (Lok Dal party) from Bhiwani in 1987.
Sheoran's uncle Bahadur Singh was also into politics. He was elected from Loharu Assembly seat in 2000 and was the education minister in the Chautala government before crossing over to the Congress.
Sheoran is married to the daughter of the former Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) chairman and retired SP Chander Bhan.
A DIG-rank officer summed up Sheoran by saying, “He seemed to have taken the film-like image of cops who enjoy absolute power too seriously.”