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Stop obsessing over Sanjay Dutt, India has still not been able to bring back Dawood

Even after 25 years, we have not been able to catch the culprits who hatched the plan to burn Mumbai.

 |  4-minute read |   11-07-2018
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Among the few times I have been charged with breach of privilege of Maharashtra Assembly, the one that I would rank as most eventful was in 1998. The MLAs in the Assembly had been eulogising the slain Shiv Sena MLA Vithal Chavan, when I decided to write about his shady connections with the underworld. Let's just say it did not go down well with the Assembly, and I was sent to the Arthur Road Jail for four days. More importantly, I was in the same cell as some of the accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case.

That was the first time I heard first-hand stories of how the RDX travelled to Mumbai from Shikhandi in coastal Konkan. It was a clear-cut consequence of the nexus among police, custom officers and smugglers. While Dawood Ibrahim smuggled “harmless” things like gold, watches etc, the police and custom officers looked away. One fateful day, they thought they had turned a blind eye to another consignment of the “harmless” goods. Except it was RDX.

sanju-hero_071118010650.jpgIf the police relied on Sanjay Dutt for vital tips on underworld activities, less said the better about the force.

Dawood had his connections in Mumbai — be it the construction business, politics, Bollywood or cricket. His associate, Tiger Memon, was partying happily with celebrities. His brother, Yakub Memon, was even a member of the peace committee constituted by the Mahim Police. Therefore, for former police commissinor MN Singh to surmise that the bomb blasts could have been averted had Sanjay Dutt warned the police about the weapons he had received, is not just amusing, but also a tacit indictment of our intelligence. “Arms were delivered to Sanjay Dutt on January 16. Instead of concealing them, if he had only told his patriotic father, who in turn would have surely informed us, we would have prevented the bombings and saved so many lives,” his exact statement according to The Print. If the police relied on Sanjay Dutt for vital tips on underworld activities, less said the better about the force’s competence to tackle an ominous conspiracy.

Why, then, are we so obsessed with Sanjay Dutt, as if he is the main conspirator of the Mumbai blasts? It is a classic case of deflecting attention from the loopholes in our system. Not a single top police officer or politician has been investigated yet. Even after 25 years, we have not been able to bring back Dawood and Tiger Memon, who, and not Sanjay Dutt, hatched the plan to burn Mumbai with the help of local criminals, and a blind eye from police and customs.

Rajkumar Hirani has missed the police angle completely in his unapologetic ad film, Sanju. Or perhaps, he was directed to do so. He squarely blames the media for the agony Sanjay Dutt endured. While Hirani has blamed the press even for his apparent mistakes, it is true the media did fall prey to the stories planted by the police. RDX found at his residence was one of the fake news that was widely read and spoken about.

Barring a few exceptions, the media went berserk with juicy stories, just like the Talwar murder case or Sridevi’s death. Cameramen had tailed him till the Yerwada jail. That overenthusiasm seems to have been revived with the release of Sanju. And Hirani has probably touched a raw nerve.

sanju690_04271802463_071118010426.jpgSanjay Dutt behaved recklessly during a sensitive time in Mumbai, and he has paid the price for that.

The fact of the matter is, Sanjay Dutt is merely a soft target played up equally by the media and police to brush bigger, uncomfortable questions under the carpet. Words like terrorist, traitor, anti-national are used to describe him.

However, according to TADA court, he has been acquitted of the charge of being a terrorist — the fact that Sunil Dutt implored every politician and Bal Thackeray stood by him might have helped in the verdict not being challenged (Hirani has, of course, omitted this part).

But prima facie, it appears Sanjay Dutt behaved irresponsibly during a sensitive time in Mumbai, and he has paid the price for that.

However, Hirani’s objective to even whitewash Sanjay Dutt’s mistakes and portray him as a victim of the system has probably been counter-productive. His life has seen dramatic ups and downs by any standards, and he missed an opportunity to make a Martin Scorsese-like masterpiece. Instead, he decided to make a typical Bollywood entertainer that tried, and succeeded, to please the subject.

Yet, it has been a focal point of debates in media, and Sanjay Dutt is now the focus of national attention. While the movie may have made Rs 200 crore, like many mindless films do, it hardly deserved the debate it generated in the media.

Let us leave Sanjay Dutt and Sanju alone.

Also read: It's Realpolitik: Why it's erroneous to corner Jayant Sinha over garlanding Jharkhand lynching case convicts

Writer

Nikhil Wagle Nikhil Wagle @waglenikhil

The author is a senior journalist from Maharashtra.

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