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Will Sanjay Dutt go to jail for possessing an AK-56?

January 26, 2007

Sanjay Dutt, a popular Bollywood star, was convicted for illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a 9mm pistol, and not for being part of a conspiracy in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast case (250 killed and over 700 injured) for which he was originally charged. The court has extended his bail to February 6th. But he isn’t happy. He wants to go on parole…like forever stay out of jail for what he did. Which was to buy dangerous weapons from dangerous people. He could get 5-10 years in jail under the Arms Act, but he has appealed under section 4 of the Probation of Offenders Act. This Act allows offenders to be released on a bond of assurance of good conduct for a period not less than three years.

Others want to be let out too: Unfortunately for Sanjay, as many as 69 accused under TADA (Prevention of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act) who were not as lucky as him, have filed applications to be let out from the TADA Act too. Ofcourse the courts cannot let these people go…but this will certainly make them think twice before letting Sanjay out on parole.

Sympathy and support: Sanjay has supporters though. None other than eminent citizens like film stars like Dilip Kumar, ex-Mumbai sheriff Nana Chudasama, social worker Yusuf Merchant and Vipul Kadri, director of NGO, Save The Children, India have vouched for his good conduct and character. They, like a lot of the public, feel that Sanjay’s one and a half years in prision earlier for this same offence is punishment enough.
The public also loves him. Poor little lost (rich) kid is how they see it. They want to let him go back to making films. After all, he didn’t bomb anybody. He didn’t kill anybody. He wanted a weapon for self-defence…that’s all. I confess feel a little like this myself even though I am not a Sanjay fan. I am not sure exactly why…but then feelings don’t always stand the test of rational thought.

Courts too seem sympathetic
Oddly, the court are not being seen as being harsh either. They have extended Sanjay’s bail to February 6th to allow him to complete his film commitments! However, they were sympathetic to Mubina Baya Bhiwandiwala and Zebunisa Kazi as well, who were both convicted for their complicity in the blast conspiracy. These two ladies who are mothers have been granted liberty until further orders.

Reality will force the courts to be harsh on Sanjay
Also, accused facing the same charges as Sanjay Dutt (possession of illegal weapons) Kersi Adejania and Rusi Mulla (both elderly citizens), have asked for the same relief as Sanjay. They don’t want to go to jail – they want parole. February 6th is to decide their fate as well. Clearly, the courts cannot make an exception just for Sanjay.

Why so much sympathy for Sanjay?
Everyone believes that Sanjay is not a criminal and morever – that his naughty days are over. That he regrets his dalliance with the law and wants to follow the straight and narrow path – which means get back to making money!
Vir Sanghvi puzzles over this public sympathy. He wonders why Salman Khan did not get any sympathy even though his crime (killing endangered species – black bucks) is far lighter. Sanghavi wrote this in 1998, much before Sanjay was freed of terrorism charges, But even then he admits:

In the circumstances, it was hard to see Sanjay as an international terrorist. It was easier to see him as a macho moron who had decided — when his family was threatened — that the best way to protect his sisters was to procure an assault rifle…

There was never much sympathy for actor Salman Khan (who has a playboy image). As Sanghavi writes:

His (Salman’s manner is perceived as arrogant and self-satisfied and the general view is Salmanthat even if success has not gone to his head, it has certainly gone to his overmuscled biceps.

But the public is usually right…as this was borne out in 2002 when Salman was involved in a hit and run accident and now is suspected of spiriting away witnesses. There is no doubt in the mind of the public (except for Salman’s die-hard fans) that Salman has behaved badly, and is doing all he can to cover up his misdeeds.

It is unfortunate, but however ‘nice’ Sanjay Dutt is and however ‘right’ the public is in wanting to see him free, he will have to pay the price for possession of the rifle. As this DNA article explains:

Sanjay Dutt’s application seeking probation may be a long shot at evading prison, say lawyers. The provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, which provides that a convict can be let out on probation instead of serving time in prison, are applied only in rare cases, say legal experts.

Tough. And if by chance the judge is lenient and lets Sanjay off, it is likely that it will create a huge controversy. Just hope our Sanjaybaba realises that it is best to pay the price for one’s misdeeds. I always think of the guy who wrote Shantaram, the Australian Gregory Roberts. He went back to prison and served the sentence he deserved, even though he had reformed himself as a person. He may have lost critical years…but his conscience is clear. He more than paid for his deeds. It is quite impossible for courts to take a call on whether a person has really reformed or not…so the legal system cannot make exceptions.

However, if you ask me, I doubt that Sanjay will go to prison for five years. Even if the courts indict him now…ways and means will be found to get him off later. That’s the kind of ‘faith’ I have in our legal system! And in this case, I might even be glad.

(Sanjay Dutt’s photo sourced from Himalayan Times and Salman Khan’s from NewsKerala)

Related Reading: Jail for actor Sanjay Dutt.

More on Bollywood and Hollywood.
More on Crime.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashima permalink
    January 28, 2007 3:06 am

    Punishment should fit the crime.

    Just because you are a big bollywood personality, politician or cricketer, doesn’t mean you should be able to get away with it (or buy your way out of it).

    I was appalled at the way Navjot Singh Sidhu has been ‘released’ and is also set to join the Lokh Sabha. Someone has died because of his road rage over a parking spot (irrespective of whether it was him or the victim who instigated it) and he’s walking free.
    The Sanjeev Nanda incident in 1999 is no different.

    The fact that these people are well off and in the spotlight should, in fact, result in harsher punishments as they are role models and their punishments should set the precedent for others.

  2. February 10, 2007 5:24 pm

    If Sanjay Dutt gets sent to the Arthur Road Jail, then it would be horrible for him. The jail has the reputation of being one of the worst in India with open;y abusive behavior. I hope there is a way for him to serve out his sentense through public service.

  3. ashima permalink
    February 20, 2007 2:29 am

    Hi Nita,

    i received this email below and thought it worth sharing with everyone.

    Shame on Indian Media

    By the time u guys read this news, the body of Major Manish Pitambare, who was shot dead at Anantnag, would have been cremated with full military honors.

    On Tuesday, this news swept across all the news channels ‘Sanjay Dutt relieved by court’. ‘Sirf Munna not a bhai’ ’13 saal ka vanvaas khatam’
    ‘although found guilty for possession of armory, Sanjay can breath sigh of relief as all the TADA charges against him are withdrawn’
    Then many personalities like Salman Khan said ‘He is a good person. We knew he will come out clean’. Mr Big B said “Dutt’s family and our family have relations for years he’s a good kid. He is like elder brother to Abhishek”. His sister Priya Dutt said “we can sleep well tonight. It ‘s a great relief”

    In other news, Parliament was mad at Indian team for performing bad; Greg Chappell said something; Shah Rukh Khan replaces Amitabh in KBC and other such stuff. But most of the emphasis was given on Sanjay Dutt’s “phoenix like” comeback from the ashes of terrorist charges. Surfing through the channels, one news on BBC startled me. It read “Hisbul Mujahidin’s most wanted terrorist ‘Sohel Faisal’ killed in Anantnag, India. Indian Major leading the operation lost his life in the process. Four others are injured.

    It was past midnight, I started visiting the stupid Indian channels, but Sanjay Dutt was still ruling. They were telling how Sanjay pleaded to the court saying ‘I’m the sole bread earner for my family’, ‘I have a daughter who is studying in US’ and so on. Then they showed how Sanjay was not wearing his lucky blue shirt while he was hearing the verdict and also how he went to every temple and prayed for the last few months. A suspect in Mumbai bomb blasts, convicted under armory act…was being transformed into a hero.
    Sure Sanjay Dutt has a daughter; Sure he did not do any terrorist activity. Possessing an AK47 is considered too elementary in terrorist community
    and also one who possesses an AK47 has a right to possess a pistol so that again is not such a big crime; Sure Sanjay Dutt went to all the temples;
    Sure he did a lot of Gandhigiri but then…….. …

    Major Manish H Pitambare got the information from his sources about the terrorists’ whereabouts. Wasting no time he attacked the camp, killed Hisbul Mujahidin’s supremo and in the process lost his life to the bullets fired from an AK47. He is survived by a wife and daughter (just like Sanjay Dutt) who’s only 18 months old.

    Major Manish never said ‘I have a daughter’ before he took the decision to attack the terrorists in the darkest of nights. He never thought about having a family and he being the bread earner. No news channel covered this since they were too busy hyping a former drug addict, a suspect who’s linked to bomb blasts which killed hundreds. Their aim was to show how he defied the TADA charges and they were so successful that his conviction in possession of armory had no meaning. They also concluded that his parents in heaven must be happy and proud of him.

    Parents of Major Manish are still living and they have to live rest of their lives without their beloved son. His daughter won’t ever see her daddy again. Finally Major Manish, to my generation is a greater hero, someone who laid his life in the name of this great nation.
    So guys, please forward this message around so that the media knows which news to give importance, as it is a shame for us since this Army Major’s death news was given by a foreign TV channel!!!

  4. Phantom permalink
    March 31, 2007 7:55 am

    It’s an indictment on modern middle class indian society that our media only portrays what they feel will “sell”. The honest reality is that the media will only want to publish stuff that is controversial and which will increase subscriptions, readership and consequently ad revenue and market share. It is also a reality that between two newspapers, one showing Sanjay’s story as a “taza khabar” “just happened development”…and the other showing the unfortunate demise of an army/police officer in the line of duty….which do u think will attract more attention. It is a sad but true funciton of human nature that we crave gossip and controversy sometimes more than a reminder of harsh reality.

    Those serving in the armed forces live a thankless life. Gone are the days when the protectors of the nation were treated like heros and venerated as those who are laying their lives on the line. In medivial europe the knights were highly respected amongst society, in pre-WW1 the best and brightest German youth joined the army and luftwaffe (elite german airforce units), likewise with the japanese. Even from the 50’s to the 70’s, NDA got some of the brightest and capable indian youth. Now….no bright young chap wants to join the army and earn in 10 years what he can begin earngin within the corporate sector within 1-3 years. This is indicative of society’s shifting priorities, sad but true. Better to acknowledge it, understand it, rather than be bewildered by it.

  5. January 23, 2009 2:23 pm

    Ashima says
    Punishment should fit the crime.
    I agree with that. Yet can Ashima suggest why carrying a gun or even A.K 47 is a crime? Just because government says so? Or just because if a person have a gun, he may commit a crime?
    So well even a knife kitchen can be used to kill someone. isn’t it also a crime?
    No, I agree that a knife may not kill a person like a gun does, and killing by a kitchen knife will be more excruciating and painful, so should having a kitchen knife be considered bigger crime than having an Illegal gun?
    What if a girl is being raped and suddenly she gets a Pepsi can in her hand and starts smashing the pepsi can on the rapist/attackers head, until he doesn’t change all in red blood and dead?
    How gruesome it would be to kill a rapist ready to rape you and (may be) kill you in doing so, with a Pepsi can?
    Yep it would be extremely gruesome. So should having a illegal/not-permitted by the godly government also be announced as a crime?

    By the way, Government do permits us to have a Pepsi can through taxes, yet tere are various things which government doesnot permit and they are freely available and are valid weapons. Like a heavy stone on the road side where the girl was being teased?

    I do not know what other crimes Sanjay Dutt did.

    But if people think that carrying a safety weapon is crime, they should think again. Does it make sense?

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