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1993 Mumbai blasts verdict puts spotlight on Sanjay Dutt

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
August 08, 2006 16:13 IST
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When special TADA judge P D Kode starts delivering the judgment in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case on August 10, his words will decide the fate of 123 accused persons charged with the conspiracy.

Out of them, however, all eyes will be on the fate of accused number 117.

That is Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt.

Nayak or khalnayak?

The question has been doing the rounds in the public mind ever since Dutt was arrested on April 19, 1993, for his alleged involvement in the 13 blasts that killed 257 people on March 12 that year.

Sanjay Dutt's lawyer, Farhana Shah, says, "We have placed our arguments before the court. Inshallah (god willing), he will come out clean."

If convicted, Dutt can get anything from five years' to life imprisonment under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

Dutt was released on bail for the first time on May 5, 1993, by the Bombay high court but the very next year his bail was cancelled and he was re-arrested in July 1994.

This time he spent 15 months at a stretch in jail and was released on October 18, 1995, after the Supreme Court intervened to grant him bail.

His incarceration was spent between Thane jail and Arthur Road jail; in between he was also admitted to JJ hospital after he took ill.

According to the Mumbai police, Dutt's links with the underworld began during the shooting of Yalgaar in Dubai in 1991, where he met underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his brother Anis.

Since then he kept in regular touch with the underworld, states the police.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which took over the probe from the Mumbai police, has charged Dutt with possessing an AK-56 during the 1993 Mumbai riots. The weapon was delivered to him by underworld don Abu Salem, film producer Samir Hingora and another accused Baba Moosa Chavan.

(Samir Hingora and his partner Hanif Kadawala were then co-producing Sanam starring Sanjay Dutt.)

Dutt had earlier admitted to the Mumbai police that he possessed an AK-56 but later on retracted this in the TADA court.

The prosecution has involved Dutt in the bomb blasts case stating that he knew about the conspiracy and was part of the gang that carried it out but kept quiet.

According to the prosecution, Dutt confessed to them that he was scared rightwing Hindu rioters would kill him and his family because his late father Sunil Dutt supported Muslim families affected in the Mumbai riots of 1992-93 in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

In his confessional statement, Dutt admitted to possessing the AK-56 and later on telling his close aide Yusuf Nulwala to dispose of it since he was shooting in Mauritius when the news became public.

Nulwala then approached Kersi Adajania to melt the AK-56. This was done, but parts of the weapon like rod and springs could not be melted.

The prosecution has produced the rod and the spring in the court as evidence against Dutt.

However, Farhana Shah says, "The rod and springs, only Allah or Bhagwan knows from where they got it. At this moment I can only say that there are discrepancies in the prosecution's statement. All the co-accused and witnesses against Sanjay have denied in court about their or Sanjay's involvement in this case."

Asked how Dutt has changed as a person in the last 11 years that she has handled the case, Shah said, "As far as his personal life is concerned I don't know much about him. His conduct in court is very good and he has always attended the court whenever he has been told to do so.

"He was targeted for no reason," Shah added. "Shiv Sena leader Madhukar Sarpotdar too was arrested with weapons during the Mumbai riots but nothing happened to him. And here, Sanjay Dutt was implicated for no fault of his."

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai