Mumbai: Amidst chaos, crowd and cameras, the 1993 Bombay blasts accused and Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt surrendered in a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) court on Thursday afternoon to serve his three-and-a-half year sentence. A large number of media persons and onlookers surrounded Dutt's car as he reached the court.
Dutt will be taken to Arthur Road prison first, then to Yerwada Jail in Pune. TADA court directed the Mumbai Police to ensure safety keeping in mind "celebrity status" of the convict and the chaos that ensued while he was en route to court.
Accompanied by his wife Manyata and film maker Mahesh Bhatt, the actor arrived at the court sporting a red 'tilak' on his forehead. As soon as Dutt appeared before the court, formalities began for his surrender.
The actor requested that he be supplied with home-cooked food, electronic cigarette and medicines while in the jail. The CBI, however, opposed the request saying special treatment cannot be given to a convict.
The TADA court allowed home-cooked food, mattress, pillow and medicines in jail to Dutt for a month, but said after that, the actor will have to eat jail food and medicines will be provided by the jail. The court, however, disallowed electronic cigarettes in jail and suggested that the actor should quit smoking.
The court commenced the process for the identification of Dutt, whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court recently. Sporting a white kurta and jeans, Dutt waved to the crowd before getting into his car outside Imperial Heights building at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra.
Bhatt first emerged out of the car and with folded hands requested the media personnel to move away so that Dutt was able to reach the court. After much persuasion, the way was cleared for Dutt to reach the court. Several fans of Dutt waited patiently outside the court for the actor to arrive.
Police had maintained strong bandobast in the court premises as well as at the actor's residence in Bandra in the wake of threat to Dutt's life. While Dutt had told TADA court earlier that he faced threat to his life from fundamental groups, Arthur Road Central Jail authorities received an anonymous letter few days back saying Dutt would be harmed if he was lodged there.
The Supreme Court in its March 21 verdict awarded five years' imprisonment to the 53-year-old actor for illegal possession of arms. The apex court on May 14 refused to grant him more time to surrender. The actor has already served 18 months of his total sentence and will now serve the remaining jail term. On May 10, the Supreme Court had dismissed Dutt's plea seeking review of its judgement on his conviction and the five-year jail term.
Besides his wife Manyata and friend Mahesh Bhatt, Dutt's sister and MP Priya and brother-in-law Owen Roncon were also present. The actor was visibly shaken and appeared to be nervous.
He looked stressed and was on verge of tears when his lawyer Rizwan Merchant told the court that Dutt was surrounded by a mob outside. As soon as Dutt entered the court, he bowed down before Judge GA Sanap, who asked him his name.
To this, the actor replied, "Sanjay Sunil Dutt." The judge then asked him about the punishment undergone by him and Sanjay said "551 days in jail, sir." The judge then asked Dutt to take a seat in the dock located in the back row of the room. Manyata sat next to him and held his hand. Priya and Owen also sat on the bench along with them.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)