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Sanjay Dutt restless in tiny 'anda cell meant for terrorists'

Last updated on: May 17, 2013 18:12 IST

Image: Sanjay Dutt at the TADA court on Thursday
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

Actor Sanjay Dutt is feeling 'suffocated' in his egg-shaped high-security anda cell, which is generally used to house terror suspects and hardcore criminals, at the Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai.

He pleaded to a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court on Friday to shift him to another cell as he is not a terrorist.

Rizwan Merchant, counsel for Dutt, made an oral plea before the court in Mumbai to shift the actor to some other cell, saying, "he feels suffocated in this chamber due to insufficient ventilation."

He said generally terrorists or hardcore criminals are kept in anda cells to segregate them from other prisoners for security reasons. Dutt had been convicted under the Arms Act and he should not be lodged in the egg-shaped cell, Rizwan pleaded.

The lawyer maintained that the cell has insufficient ventilation and does not get proper light.

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Sanjay Dutt restless in tiny 'anda' cell

Image: Arthur Road Jail
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

Designated Judge G A Sanap asked him to move a written application in this regard so that he would pass an order after hearing the prosecution's reaction. Merchant said he would file an application later.

The 53-year-old actor was taken to the jail in central Mumbai on Thursday night after he surrendered before the TADA Court in keeping with the Supreme Court's deadline to complete his remaining 42-month sentence in the 1993 bomb blast case. He has already spent 18 months in jail.

The SC, in March this year, reduced Dutt's sentence to five years from the six-year jail term awarded to him by the TADA Court in 2006 for illegal possession of arms.

Dutt spent his first night after returning to prison reading spiritual books.

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Sanjay Dutt restless in tiny 'anda' cell

Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

"The issue of shifting Dutt to another jail has not yet been discussed," said Additional Director General of Police, Prisons, Meera Borwankar.

Another senior officer told PTI the prison department is currently involved in gathering information such as the number of convicts, security conditions, presence of inmates linked to underworld in various jails in the state like those located in Taloja (Navi Mumbai), Yerwada (Pune), Thane, Nagpur and Nashik.

"We will go through this information and then take a call on whether or not to shift the actor (to some other jail). If things permit, he may be kept in Arthur Road Jail. But the chances of shifting him to Yerwada Jail appear to be bright," the officer added.

Asked about the activities of the actor inside his cell, the officer stated, "Last night, he read some spiritual books he brought along with him. He also did physical exercise this morning. The actor appeared restless and kept to himself."

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Sanjay Dutt restless in tiny 'anda' cell

Photographs: Reuters

Dutt had sought permission from the TADA Court to carry copies of the Bhagwad Gita, Ramayan and Hanuman Chalisa to jail.

As a convict, he can opt for carpentry, weaving, agriculture or bakery work in the jail, as 'hard labour' is part of his sentence. His options, however, depend on which prison he would be lodged in, as jails have different industries for inmates.

Dutt has already spent 18 months in jail after his arrest in April 1993 and he has another three-and-half years to serve.

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