As many readers probably already know, actor Sanjay Dutt was just sentenced to six years ‘rigorous imprisonment’ for possessing illegal weapons, including an AK-56. Last winter, he was cleared on more serious terrorism/conspiracy charges relating to the Bombay blasts of 1993. My first thought was, oh well — no Munnabhai 3, I guess. (Or, who knows? Intezar karo, Munnabhai?)
But then there are more serious questions — one might be, is it really a fair sentence? Readers, what do you think?
In my view, even if, it’s legally a reasonable sentence, Sanju does have an explanation for owning a weapon in 1993. For one thing, as a film star (and as the son of two very famous actors), his family was a target for the criminal underworld; I’m sure he wasn’t the only one to have these kinds of weapons in his possession at the time. Secondly, as of 1992/3, the Dutts were also apparently getting regular death threats from communalists following their humanitarian work on behalf of Muslims in the areas affected by the 1992 riots. Given the total lawlessness in Bombay at the time as well as his family’s own prominence, both on screen and in politics, one can understand what he might have been thinking.
On YouTube, you can watch a BBC Channel 4 Documentary on Sanju, called Sanjay Dutt: To Hell and Back, that talks about the Dutt family, Sanjay’s troubled youth (did I mention he was a heroin addict in the 1980s?), and the events surrounding the trial. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (Part 2 is the section that deals the most with the events leading up to the arrest.)
I also think the fact that Dutt has had this trial hanging over his head for fourteen years is pretty severe punishment in itself. While I respect the court’s judgment, today I feel bad for Sanju. The Bollywood actor who should really be in jail is probably Salman Khan: Sanjay Dutt may have been a bad boy, but at least he never killed anyone, eh? (Ok, allegedly killed anyone.)