Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was secretly shifted from a Mumbai prison to a Pune jail in the wee hours on Wednesday, sources said.
Sanjay Dutt was accompanied by wife Manyata and Mahesh Bhatt when he left for the court. (Photo by Kalpak Pathak/Hindustan Times)
The actor was taken from south Mumbai's high-security Arthur Road Central Jail in a van around midnight and reached the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune around 4am, an official said.
There were three police vans that took him to the Pune jail, he added. The shifting occurred in the wee hours due to security reasons and to avoid media glare.
The shifting took place exactly a week after Dutt surrendered before the special Tada court on May 16 after his conviction under the Arms Act.
The 53-year-old actor was earlier lodged in the anda (egg-shaped) cell of the Arthur Road jail following his surrender before the expiry of the Supreme Court-set deadline to serve his remaining sentence in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
That cell had 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab as its inmate before he was hanged earlier this year. Dutt was shifted to another cell of the Mumbai jail after he pleaded that he was not a terrorist.
However, Dutt is again expected to be lodged in the anda cell at the Pune jail. Half of it is sunk into the ground and is considered one the most secure cells in the prison.
The actor is no stranger to Yerawada jail. He has served time twice here. But unlike the last two times, he is a convict now and not an undertrial.
He will hence have to wear jail uniform this time; he will be allotted a qaidi or prisoner number soon, which will be prefixed with the letter 'C' symbolising that he is a convict.
The last time Dutt was at this jail, he had taken up carpentry. This time, he is expected to do labour work.
He is entitled to get a monthly allowance of Rs. 1,500 from his family to buy essentials from the jail canteen. He can meet visitors once a month for only 20 minutes.
The apex court had reduced his sentence by one year — from six years to five — in March this year. He has already served one-and-a-half years of his sentence earlier.
The incarcerated actor is expected to serve the remainder of his 42-month jail term at the Pune jail, the state's biggest in terms of capacity and among the largest in Asia.
There had been suspense over where Dutt would be lodged as the Arthur Road jail is usually used to keep undertrials, while convicted criminals are shifted to the central prison in Maharashtra.
Incidentally, Dutt had earlier appealed to surrender at Yerawada jail, citing threat to his life. However, he later withdrew his plea and accepted the court order.