One city, 13 serial bomb blasts, 257 deaths. The explosions on March 12, 1993 ripped through Mumbai. The painful memories of the families who lost their loved ones in the mindless bloodshed are inexpressible.
Although the Central Bureau of Investigation concluded that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, along with Pakistan`s spy agency, ISI, masterminded the blasts, and Tiger Memon and his brother Ayub were the main conspirators, the country was shocked when the tall and muscular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was arrested on conspiracy charges in the case.
He possessed an AK-56 rifle, which was delivered to him by gangster Abu Salem at his residence in January 1993 on the instructions of Dawood Ibrahim`s brother, Anees Ibrahim, Dutt had first admitted to the charges in his confession, but later retracted the same. The Bollywood star’s alleged conversation with don Chhota Shakeel too were tapped by the Mumbai police.
Possibly due to the good political connections of his father, Mr Sunil Dutt, Sanju Baba was soon out on bail and he was eventually acquitted of terror charges under the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. He was, however, sentenced to six years in jail by the special anti-terrorism court in Mumbai for illegal possession of arms in 2007.
Finally, on March 21, 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case but reduced his imprisonment to five years.
So far Sanjay Dutt has argued that he was in possession of the weapon for protecting his family after receiving threats during sectarian riots in Mumbai, but the indulged son of Sunil Dutt and Nargis had been in news for many wrong reasons in the past. From being a drug addict to having a woeful marriage with Rhea Pillai, Sanjay Dutt’s life had been full of chaos and many wrong decisions.
As expected, Bollywood came out strongly in favour of the ‘Khalnayak’, expressing shock and apathy over the verdict. The ‘unhappy ending’ has `saddened` a number of people belonging to the film fraternity, which thinks that ‘injustice has been done’; but in real sense, justice has been delivered now after many hitches.
Undoubtedly, `Munnabhai` has managed well to change his image from being a ‘bad boy’ to a responsible father of three. However, even his reformation, helpful nature and charity work failed to move the SC. One may feel sympathy for the man, but none can rule out that one has to pay for the bad deeds.
Some may sympathise with ‘innocent’ Sanjay, arguing he has suffered a lot in terms of mental trauma over the years, but speaking straight, a crime is a crime. Every guilty has one or the other reason to commit a crime. A court cannot pronounce a judgement keeping in mind the good image of any accused.
Should not the SC be hailed this time for its acute observations and a good judgement? Already, Sanjay has evaded harsh punishment in the case, thanks to political goodwill.
The SC judgement is a warning to those who think they can ride on their popularity and get away with the crimes they have committed. In a country where we are used to witnessing powerful men evade punishment, the judgement comes as a breather. From hunting blackbucks, drink-drive killings to hitting diners and slapping onlookers, why are the offences and crimes committed by the cinestars seen as just `errors`?
A crime is a crime, no matter who has done it and with which intent.