HT’s Sujata Anandan remembers the time when news broke about Sanjay Dutt’s possession of an AK47 rifle.
I was a complete stranger to him but Sanjay Dutt spoke to me like a little boy who needed comforting by someone older who would shoo the ghosts away.
“What do I do now, Ma’am?’’ he asked in a small voice. He was calling me from Mauritius where he was shooting for a film. I had waited in my office at the United News of India until late in the evening to take this call.
His father, the Congress MP Sunil Dutt was in the United States His sister Priya Dutt, then a young student, had asked him to speak with me.
News had broken just that afternoon about Dutt’s possession of an AK47 rifle from a consignment brought in by terrorists. Dutt did not quite admit to me that he had taken the gun but his reaction on the phone, even across all those miles, gave me the first inkling that things might not quite be right.
Then, suddenly, he said there were three other film stars, all leading men of Bollywood in that era, who also had taken guns from the same consignment. “Will they arrest me, Ma’am?’’ he asked.
I could offer him no assurances. “I don’t know,’’ is all I could say.
I remember advising him to do the right thing — there was not enough rapport between us for me to hold the conversation for much longer but as an agency correspondent at the time, I could also not flash the conversation on the wires in its entirety.
But later I thought he had been telling me the truth when a couple of the guns got washed off the Juhu beach with no evidence of who might have drowned hem in the sea. However, Dutt was obviously so panicked that he could not think right at the time.
He chose to destroy his gun, leaving evidence behind.
Everyone believed in Sanjay Dutt’s stupidity but no one believed he had committed a deliberate crime. Until his confession even his father believed that there had been some kind of mix up and he could not have been so stupid. But he was.