Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt reached Mumbai post his release from Yerawada prison on Thursday morning after serving 42 months for possessing an AK-56 supplied by gangsters behind a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993. Dutt kissed the ground as he walked free from the jail in Pune, after authorities decided to release him ahead of schedule for good behaviour.
He then boarded a chartered flight to Mumbai with wife Manyata and children Iqra and Shahran. He was greeted by fans at the airport and went on to pay obeisance at Siddhivinayak temple.
From there, the 56-year-old actor went to visit his mother and late Bollywood actor Nargis Dutt’s grave to offer his prayers. He was accompanied by his family.
Sanjay Dutt in Mumbai's Marine Lines to visit grave of his mother Nargis pic.twitter.com/9fI0QDjmHo— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
Sanjay Dutt leaves from Mumbai's Siddhivinayak Temple pic.twitter.com/7P1IO30LyW— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
Watch | Sanjay Dutt walks out of Pune’s Yerwada jail as a free man
Reports said that he would meet family and friends including Bollywood superstar Salman Khan later in the day. According to ANI, Salman Khan had sent bodyguards to the Mumbai airport to escort Dutt on his trip across the city.
A relieved Dutt told media at the Pune airport, “There is no easy walk to freedom, my friends.” He also thanked his fans and said he was here because of their support. He had earlier walked out of the jail with a bag of personal belongings and a file.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Dutt’s sister and former Congress MP, Priya Dutt said, “I would not want to revisit the 23 years of ordeal my family and Sanjay had to undergo. We all want to look forward for the life ahead. But I really wish my father was there to see this day, and we all miss him. Where ever he is, I am sure he will be very happy.”
Dutt was first arrested on April 19, 1993, for possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle, which was a part of cache of arms and explosives which landed in India prior to the serial blasts of March 1993. He spent 18 months in jail in 1993. On July 31, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years.
The 56-year-old actor’s jail term has been controversial with accusations that he availed of irregular remission in his sentence and was accorded special treatment by the authorities. Authorities have denied the reports and maintained that Dutt’s remission days were calculated in accordance with rules and jail manual. During his imprisonment, he was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and again for 30 days later.
The actor’s early release has come as a relief for the Dutt family which has undergone the ordeal of seeing Sanjay Dutt walk in and out of police stations, custody, court premises and jails, since the last 23 years from his date of arrest in April 1993. Sources close to the family said that almost everyone including his sister Priya has been camping in Pune since Wednesday to bring the actor back home in a chartered flight to Mumbai.
His Bollywood friends were also happy at his release. While Hirani, who will shortly start shooting a biopic on the actor, said he was “very happy”, filmmaker Subhash Ghai also said he wants to make a film with Dutt. Speaking to HT, Ghai said, “I have known Sanjay since he was 17 and I cast him opposite Dilip Kumar in Vidhata. Then I directed him as Khalnayak in 1993 when he was a star. I was always in touch with his journey of ups and down and felt he was always alone. He has learnt a lot of lessons and is a matured man today who realises the truth of life. I am sure you will find a new Sanjay Dutt after he comes back who is maturer and enlightened. His fans love him for his innocent heart and the personality. I look forward to make one good film with him under Mukta Arts soon. I wish him and his family all the happiness in life.”