Dressed in blue denims and a shirt, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt stepped out of Yerwada jail once more, this time a free man, on Thursday morning. Forty-two months of jail term later, the actor is expected to visit the Siddhivinayak temple when he reaches Mumbai later in the day.
On his first day after his release, the 56-year-old actor will also visit his mother and late Bollywood actor Nargis Dutt’s grave to offer his prayers.
Dutt was greeted by his wife Manyata, twins Iqra and Shahran and close friends including director Rajkumar Hirani. The actor last starred in Hirani’s PK, co-starring Aamir Khan.
Amid cheering fans greeting him, Dutt was whisked away to the airport from where he will board a chartered flight to Mumbai, but not before he saluted the jail.
“There is no easy walk to freedom, my friends,” Dutt said at the Pune airport.
The actor was seen carrying a bag with his personal belongings and file of documents as he left jail.
Watch | Sanjay Dutt walks out of Pune’s Yerwada jail as a free man
Dutt was convicted for illegal possession of arms during the 1993 Mumbai blast and sentenced to six years of jail in 2007. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years. During the investigation and the marathon trial, he spent 18 months in jail, and in May 2013 was sent to Yerwada jail to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
Prior to the actor stepping out of jail, activists opposing Dutt’s early release shouted slogans in front of jail. They were however detained by the police..
While serving his sentence, the actor – best known for his Munnabhai films and Khalnayak -- was at the centre of a slew of controversies as critics alleged he availed remission of his sentence. They also charged that he was accorded special treatment. Prisoner number 16656, Dutt was kept in a barrack not shared by anyone.
The jail administration and Dutt family denied the allegations.
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.”
During his prison term, the actor worked as a semi-skilled labour, earning Rs 35 per day for making paper bags. The amount was later increased to Rs 50 per day.
He also radio jockeyed for a community radio run by the jail administration for inmates. Swati Sathe, Deputy Inspector General, Prison (western region), said was popular among the prisoners for his radio show, and would be missed by the inmates.
Back in Mumbai, fans cannot wait for Dutt’s return. His Pali Hill residence at Bandra has been decorated with posters on the outside, welcoming their favourite hero.