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Sanjay Dutt's release should make patriotic Indians throw up

Neena Haridas
Neena HaridasFeb 26, 2016 | 16:07

Sanjay Dutt's release should make patriotic Indians throw up

I can’t be the only person who wants to throw up when the visuals of a gleeful Sanjay Dutt appear on TV. There must be others like me who feel nauseated at the sight of Dutt saying things he clearly does not behove, such as "Bharat mata ki jai". And there is something about the heroic reception he has received that is truly offensive.

Dutt is not a great actor – as even he has conceded. But his performance in the aftermath of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that took so many innocent lives is his greatest act.

Dutt and his friends in the movie business have sold the country a bogus narrative. According to the their version, he received threat calls in the run-up to the bomb blasts. He was so concerned about the safety of his sisters that he procured a gun to protect them.

But the police treated this as a major crime and arrested the poor boy. Why, they even tried to claim that he was a terrorist!

It is a good story. But, as the courts have also ruled, it is pure nonsense.

First of all, Dutt was no babe in the woods. Telephone records show that he was in regular contact with Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim. He was close friends with Dawood’s partners in the film industry, Hanif Lakdawala and Samir Hingora, who ran Magnum video on behalf of the D-company.

It is possible that he received threat calls during the Mumbai riots in 1993. Many Muslims in the film industry were subjected to such threats. Unlike the others, Dutt was better placed to defend himself. His father was a local MP from the ruling party and Sanjay already had three licensed weapons.

Despite this, Dutt got AK-56 assault rifles from the D-Company with Samir and Hanif's aid. He also agreed to keep hand grenades for Hanif and Samir at his garage in Pali Hill. Witnesses have testified that the arms came hidden inside a car and Dutt agreed the gangsters took them out of the car and put them in his garage.

Throughout the blasts, he was in touch with the Ibrahims in Dubai (by his own admission).

Does this sound like a mere matter of protecting one's family? Or was Dutt part of a larger conspiracy behind the bomb blasts?

The Mumbai police thought he was. When Dutt was arrested, the Maharashtra government found that the evidence was so strong that it washed its hands off Dutt despite his father Sunil Dutt's pleas.

Senior Dutt then went to Bal Thackeray, even though the Shiv Sena was involved in the 1993 riots that had apparently so frightened Sanjay.

And in an unprincipled bizzare turn of events, the Dutts made common cause with the very people they claimed had threatened them, so much so that Sanjay had to store assault rifles, grenades et al at home. When the police cracked the blasts case, Sanjay was arrested. But while the other accused, many of whom were only temporarily involved in the conspiracy, spent years in jail, Dutt got bail and went back to his lavish lifestyle. Even after he was found guilty, he stayed out of jail and made movies till the appeal process was exhausted.

In a stroke of good fortune, he had been acquitted of terrorism charges under TADA. He only received a light sentence under the Arms Act. So now, while all the others, who had the slightest involvement in the bombings prepare to die in jail, Dutt is out and a public hero once again. His jail sentence was a joke, with frequent paroles, and he has been released early "for good behaviour"! Worse still, because public memory is short, the man, who stored weapons for Dawood’s gang, is being hailed by the cheering crowd. And, to add to the requisite filmy touch, he salutes the Indian flag and talks about Bharat Mata.

Justice in India is not just slow, it is also often ineffective. And so while Dutt basks in the glory of public admiration and parties away, I am forced to do something very different.

I throw up.

And so, I think, should all patriotic Indians.

Last updated: February 27, 2016 | 13:03
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