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01 December 2023

Sanjay Dutt is a free man, walks out of jail after 42 months

By Bollywood Correspondent/AFP

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt walked out a free man from the Yerwada Central Jail (Pune, Maharashtra) on Thursday after serving a 42-month prison-term.

Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to undergo five years rigorous imprisonment for illegal possession of arms during the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

Arrested in 1993, he had already served 18 months as an under trial and then returned to jail in May 2013 to serve the remaining 42 months of his sentence.

The disgraced star kissed the ground as he walked free from the jail in the western city of Pune, after authorities decided to release him ahead of schedule for good behaviour.

Present to receive him outside the jail amidst tight security were his wife Manyata and their children, sisters with her family, film director Rajkumar Hirani, thousands of fans, and a huge media contingent from across India and abroad.

Facing a crush of police and media outside Yerwada Central Jail, the 56-year-old was bundled into a white SUV and driven away.

"I am out here because of their (fans') support. There is no easy walk to freedom, my friends," the 56-year-old later told media waiting at Pune airport.

Once in Mumbai, he is scheduled to visit shrine and temple to offer prayers.

He is scheduled to interact with the media later in the day.

He shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname 'Deadly Dutt'.

He is best known for playing a mobster with a heart of gold in the popular 'Munnabhai' series.

In 2007, Dutt was found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol acquired from those involved in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai that killed 257 people and injured hundreds.

Dutt, who was cleared of conspiracy charges in connection with the blasts, had claimed that he had acquired the weapons to protect himself and his family during the riots that erupted after the blasts.

The actor served 18 months but then was out on bail, fighting the conviction until a court in March 2013 ordered him back to jail in Pune.

His frequent breaks from jail had earlier been criticised as evidence of VIP treatment. Between May 2013 and 2014, Mr Dutt spent over 118 days out of prison.