PUNE: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt walked out a free man from the Yerwada central jail here on Thursday morning after serving a 42-month prison-term. Outside the jail, dressed in a pair of denims and a navy blue shirt, Dutt bent down to touch the ground and turned around to offer a salute to the jail.
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Present to receive him outside the jail amidst tight security were his wife Manyata and their children, sister and former MP Priya Dutt and her family, film director Rajkumar Hirani, thousands of fans, a huge media contingent from across India and abroad.
Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment for illegal possession of arms during the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
Sanjay spent 42 months, a remainder of the his five year sentence in the Yerawada prison. His stay was mired in various controversies relating to his frequent paroles and furlough which the detractors said was granted to him as special favours due to his celebrity status.
Prison authorities and his lawyers, however, refuted the allegations, saying his remission of 144 days and his parole leave was in accordance with jail manual and prescribed rules. The Bollywood star was 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.
During the investigation and the marathon trial, he spent 18 months in jail. 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 following which he surrendered to serve the rest of his sentence. According to jail officials, Dutt was given work of making paper bags in his cell.
The actor, embroiled in heated debates over his frequent parole and furlough leave in many quarters, regularly participated in the programmes on internal circuit jail radio, jail sources said.
During his imprisonment, he was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and again for 30 days later.
Before Dutt's release this morning, a handful of protestors too had raised slogans in front of the prison protesting alleged the preferential treatment meted out to him by the authorities.
Shortly after he walked out free from the jail, the actor drove to Pune airport to board a chartered plane to Mumbai.
Once in Mumbai, he will proceed straight to the Siddhi Vinayak temple to offer prayers.
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Soon after Dutt's release, several Bollywood celebs and co-stars including Juhi Chawla, Gracy Singh, Mahesh Bhatt and Subhash Ghai wished him peace and welcomed his return to the industry with a hope that he will reach great career heights in his second innings in B-town.
As far his future film projects are concerned, Bollywood filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani would collaborate with Dutt for the third instalment of "Munnabhai", besides the biopic that he is making on the actor.
Besides, "Oh My God" director Umesh Shukla is working on a socially relevant film in which he wants to cast the "Vaastav" star. Director Indra Kumar too has plans to work with Dutt in the third part of "Dhamaal".
Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra had earlier revealed that he had several scripts for Dutt and would work with him soon.
In Dutt's absence, his wife Manyata had apparently signed Prabhu Deva to direct a film for his production house. Also the release date of the film "Hasmukh Pigal Gaya", that Dutt is producing will be finalised soon as he is out of prison now.
There have been reports that Dutt’s director friend Sanjay Gupta too wants to work with him.
It is said that Actor Salman Khan had sent four of his bodyguards to Mumbai Airport for Sanjay's protection.
Then he will visit the Bada Kabrastan in Marine Lines and pray at the grave of his mother, the late actress Nargis Dutt.
He is scheduled to interact with the media later in the day.
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- Sanjay Dutt reaches Mumbai at around 11.30 am and heads in an Audi to Siddhi Vinayak temple at Prabhadevi in South Mumbai to offer prayers.
- Sanjay reaches Siddhi Vinayak temple.
Overwhelming crowd as Sanjay Dutt reaches Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai pic.twitter.com/v3ZO5Kwji3— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
He wraps his visit and heads to his mother's grave.
Sanjay Dutt leaves from Mumbai's Siddhivinayak Temple pic.twitter.com/7P1IO30LyW— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
Meanwhile, the entrance of Dutt's house in suburban Bandra was decorated with garlands to welcome him back.
Also, a photo of his late actor-politician father Sunil Dutt was put up at the gate of his building 'Imperial Heights' along with a message that read - "Dutt Sahab Amar Rahe".
Fans too were seen eagerly awaiting Dutt's return. Hoardings like "Welcome Back Sanju Baba", "Bandraites Welcome Back Bandra Boy Sanjay Dutt" with a picture of young Dutt with his mother were put up in the area.
After the temple visit, Sanjay is expected to head to his mother's (Nargis) grave at Marine Lines to pay respects before proceeding home in Bandra, where he is scheduled to hold a press conference later in the day.
- Sanjay at his mother's grave at Bada Kabrastan in Marine Lines.
Sanjay Dutt in Mumbai's Marine Lines to visit grave of his mother Nargis pic.twitter.com/9fI0QDjmHo— ANI (@ANI_news) February 25, 2016
Celebrations at Sanjay's residence
(Inputs from IANS, PTI, ANI)