Mumbai: Actor Sanjay Dutt, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts case for possessing illegal weapons, has just left his residence in Mumbai to go to a special TADA court where he will surrender. He is being accompanied by his wife Manyata and some other family members. His entourage is expected to take around 40 minutes to reach the court.
After her surrenders, Mr Dutt will be taken into custody and sent first to Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai and then is expected to be moved to Pune’s Yerawada jail to complete his prison term of five years.
The actor has already served 18 months in jail 20 years ago; the Supreme Court has directed him to serve another 42 months, reducing a trial court sentence of six years to five years.
Since morning, a huge crowd had gathered outside Mr Dutts’s house. Members of the film fraternity, which has stood steadfast by the actor, also visited him. A large posse of policemen was also deployed outside his house.
Mr Dutt is expected to surrender at around 4 pm today, when a deadline set by the court elapses. Paperwork will be done at Arthur Road, the local area jail for Mr Dutt, but only under-trials are kept there. Mr Dutt, as a convict, will be moved to another jail, most probably Pune’s Yerawada Jail where he was lodged the last time.
On Tuesday, Mr Dutt had pleaded in court that he be allowed to surrender directly at the Yerawada Jail as he feared a threat to his life from “fundamentalist groups.” On Wednesday, he withdrew his plea, without giving reasons.
The police and jail authorities have promised adequate security for Mr Dutt, but said no special arrangements have been made for the celebrity at the Pune jail.
The 56 days since the Supreme Court upheld his conviction on March 21 have been dramatic. After the verdict, a stunned Dutt appeared with folded hands and bowed head and wept on camera saying he would not appeal against the order.
As the date for his surrender drew closer, however, the actor appealed that he be given six months more to complete his seven films on the floor since it affected the livelihood of many people. The court gave him a month instead to wrap up all work. That month ends today.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected the petition of one of Mr Dutt’s producers that he be given more time to finish his film. Last week, the court had also dismissed Mr Dutt’s plea seeking a review of its March judgement.
Sanjay Dutt has been convicted and sentenced for illegally possessing a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle that were part of a consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for coordinated serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured over 700 in 1993.
Two men, Keri Adajania and Yusuf Nullwala, who destroyed the AK-56 rifle, will also surrender with Mr Dutt today.