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Posted on Mar 21, 09:32PM | IBNS
New Delhi, Mar 21 : The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced for five years Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case on charges of illegal arms possession linked to the terror attack, invoking sad reactions from the film industry which even now rides on the 53-year-old for box office success.
Dutt, who has played several gansters in films and then endeared him as the Munnabhai essaying the role of a do-gooder gangster, was earlier sentenced to six years of imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court in July 2007.
Dutt, who is out on bail now after spending 18 months in prison, had challenged his conviction in the Supreme Court, but the court sentenced him for five years now.
The actor who enjoyed a sustained popularity in Bollywood despite his various run-ins with law, was convicted for possessing illegal weapons from the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai blasts that killed 257 people.
Dutt, who is the son of late legendary actor couple Nargis Dutt and Sunil Dutt, was accused of illegal possession of arms as lethal as an AK-56 rifle. He was, however, acquitted of graver charges under TADA or the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
Effectively Sanjay Dutt will now have to spend three years and eight months in jail.
Dutt was given four weeks to surrender though he is likely to file a review petition.
On March 12, 1993, twelve coordinated blasts in Bombay Stock Exchange, Air India Building at Nariman Point and hotels Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur resulted in death of at least 257 people and injury to more than 700.
It was alleged that the blasts were the instruments to avenge the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992 and were allegedly conspired by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim (believed to be hiding in Pakistan now) and two other terrorists-Tiger Memon and his brother Yakub Memon.
Yakub Memon was sentenced to death by the apex court on Thursday after it upheld his death sentence. Memon is one of the key accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
The apex court commuted the death sentence of 10 others to life.
The 1993 blast trial resulted in the conviction of 100 people; out of which 11 were sentenced to death, while another 22 were given life terms by a TADA (anti-terrorism) court.
Soon after the Supreme Court verdict, Sanjay Dutt's sister Priya Dutt said she has no words to express her reaction.
An emotional Priya Dutt, who is also a Congress parliamentarian, said: "I don't know what to say at this point. I really don't know."
Priya Dutt was present at the court since morning and she left after the verdict.
Film fraternity reacted with sorrow and shock since Dutt was dear to many for his warm behaviour.
Bollywood actress and parliamentarian Jaya Prada said she is heart broken at the news of Sanjay Dutt's jail term and thought he is innocent.
"He is innocent. It is very unfortunate. Knowingly or unknowingly it has been written in his fate that he has to struggle like this. His family contributed so much. He had a great father in Sunil Dutt who did so much for all," said Jaya Prada.
Dutt's late father Sunil Dutt was a Bollywood hero and Congress politician known for his impeccable reputation in public life till his death in 2005. His mother Nargis Dutt who died of cancer in 1981 was a screen goddess of her times from the 1940s to early 1960s.
"I do not know the court decision. But Sanjay Dutt is very close to my heart. We worked together. Today is a sad day for me," Jaya Prada said.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who had cast Sanjay in several of his films and stood by him in his bad times, said he was saddened and life was not like film sadly.
He said he also spoke to the actor the previous night and felt the turbulence in him.
"Heart Broken: Just heard that Sanjay Dutt has to go to jail for 5 years. I expected mercy! Alas it did not happen," tweeted Bhatt.
Another Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar said he was shattered to know of the verdict.
"I am truly shattered to hear of Sanju's sentence...the nicest guy I have known just does not deserve this...my heart goes out to him," Johar tweeted.
Reports said more than Rs 300 crore was riding on the Bollywood actor who married thrice, her last wife being a small time actress Manyata with whom he tied the knot in 2008.
Dutt first married actress Richa Sharma in 1987. While Sharma died of brain tumour, they had a daughter, Trishala, who lives in the United States with her grandparents, following a custody battle with Dutt after the death of his wife. Dutt's second marriage to model Rhea Pillai ended in a divorce in 2005.
Before he got entangled in the 1993 bombings when he was given arms by gansters for keeping with him, he had a problem with serious drug addiction for years.