Mumbai: Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, jailed for six years for receiving guns from gangsters involved in the country’s worst bombings, was released from prison in western India early on 23 August.
Dutt, sporting a beard and a shaved head, walked free following 24 days in jail and after being granted bail by the Supreme Court on 20 August while his lawyers challenge the conviction.
“I knew he would walk out free. I’m so happy,” Trishala Dutt, the actor’s daughter and a U.S. resident, told local television by telephone. “ The macho superstar began serving his six-year sentence on 31 July, less the 16 months he served while awaiting trial over the bomb attacks that killed 257 people in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai in 1993.
Dutt, 48, stepped out of the jail in Pune city and shook the hands of police officers before leaving for home. Dressed in a white, striped shirt, he was received by a few friends and lawyers, flown to Mumbai in a private jet and then driven to his house in a black limousine.
The actor, who earned fame playing anti-hero and gangster roles, was welcomed by family and friends, some of whom had arrived from overseas. A coconut was broken at the doorstep as an auspicious ritual.
His sister Priya, a lawmaker in India’s upper house of parliament, hugged him. Dozens of fans gathered outside his home. But the respite for Dutt could be temporary. His lawyers had petitioned the country’s top court against his conviction and sought bail until that appeal was ruled on.
They said they could not argue the case as they were yet to get a copy of the judgment of the Mumbai court that sentenced Dutt. The court agreed to release the actor until the lawyers get a copy of the verdict.
Court officials said Dutt could be served a copy in a month’s time, after which he might have to go back to jail.