After 23 years in and out of prison, Sanjay Dutt is free

It’s time to go home.
It’s time to go home.
Image: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
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Just a couple of days after he finished shooting for his last Bollywood film, PK, Sanjay Dutt returned to jail.

In May 2013, the 56-year-old Hindi film actor was put behind bars for illegal possession of arms in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. After a 23-year trial, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. Dutt had already served some part of his term earlier. He had 42 more months to go.

Today, Dutt is a free man.

The actor was released from the Yerwada Central Jail, in Pune, Maharashtra, in the morning today (Feb. 25). He had been working as a semi-skilled labourer making paper bags, earning Rs50 for a day’s work. Although U T Pawar, superintendent of Yerwada jail, denied that Dutt was extended any special treatment, the actor was out on either parole or furlough for as many as 256 days in the last three-and-a-half years.

Besides, he was allowed to walk out of prison eight months before time on grounds of good behaviour.

“His remission was worked out in compliance with jail rules, and he was treated like any other convict,” Pawar recently told news agency Press Trust of India.

Here’s a timeline of Dutt’s tryst with jails and courtrooms.

March 1993: A series of 13 bomb explosions hit India’s financial capital Mumbai (then Bombay), killing 257 people and injuring over 700. Dutt is out shooting for a film in Mauritius.

April 1993: Dutt is arrested for possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle at his residence. The rifle was part of a consignment of arms smuggled into India ahead of the blasts. The actor admits to the charges, retracts later.

May 1993: Dutt is released on bail.

July 1994: More than a year later, Dutt’s bail is cancelled and he is arrested again.

October 1995: Dutt walks a free man after spending roughly a year and three months in the jail.

November 2006: More than a decade later, the special TADA court in Mumbai—under the now replaced Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act—delivers its verdict. Dutt is found guilty of possessing a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle under the Arms Act, but is acquitted of other, more serious, charges.

July 2007: Dutt is convicted for possession of arms. He is sentenced to a six-year term and a fine of Rs25,000 under the Arms Act.

August 2007: Dutt is arrested again, taken to Yerwada Central Jail. In less than 20 days, he is granted bail.

March 2013: The supreme court upholds the ruling but reduces Dutt’s jail term by a year. He is asked to surrender within four weeks.

April 2013: Dutt appeals for an extension to complete shooting for the ongoing films. The supreme court grants the actor four weeks on “humanitarian grounds.”

May 2013: His petition to reconsider his conviction is rejected, following which he surrenders at a Mumbai court. After a brief period at the city’s Arthur Road Jail, he is shifted to a high-security cell at the Yerwada Central Jail.

February 2016: Dutt completes his sentence and is set free—for good.