New Delhi: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt finally heaved a sigh of relief as walked out as a free man from Pune's Yerwada Jail on February 25, 2016. Dutt completed 42 months Jail term after being granted remission in his five-year sentence.
Sanjay Dutt had a bevy of fans, family and friends waiting for his grand welcome outside the Jail and back home in Mumbai.
A smile lighted his face as the 56-year-old actor, clad in a blue shirt and jeans, stepped out and walked briskly toward a waiting car outside the prison, waving to onlookers.
Looking in good health, he enthusiastically carried in his hands a 'khaki' bag containing his belongings and a green coloured file that apparently contained his prison record.
Waiting for him inside the car were his wife Maanyata and friend and producer of blockbuster 'Munnabhai' Rajkumar Hirani as he drove to Pune airport to take an onward chartered flight to Mumbai.
Speaking to reporters outside the Pune airport, the actor quipped that "There is no easy walk to freedom my friends".
Dutt was set free after completing prison formalities at around 8.45 AM and came out escorted by police which had tightened security in the area. He completed 42-months remaining of his five year sentence in Yerawada prison here as he had already spent 18 months in Mumbai's Arthur road jail as an under-trial.
Controversies continued to dog him for his leave of parole and furlough as his critics and detractors alleged that the actor had been given "special treatment" that led to his remission and a curtailed stay in prison.
Prison authorities and his lawyers, however, refuted the allegations saying that his remission of 144 days and his parole leave was in accordance with jail manual and prescribed rules.
Back home in Mumbai, his residence in suburban Bandra was decorated with flowers to welcome him after his visit to the Siddhivinayak Temple and his mother's grave at Marine Lines in South Mumbai.
Lanes leading to his house were lined with hoardings like "Welcome Back Sanju Baba", "Bandraites Welcome Back Bandra Boy Sanjay Dutt" with a picture of young Dutt with mother Nargis.
Also, a photo of his late actor-politician father Sunil Dutt was put up at the gate of his building 'Imperial Heights' along with a message that read - "Dutt Sahab Amar Rahe". Fans too were seen eagerly awaiting Dutt's return.
Soon after Dutt's release, several Bollywood celebs and co-stars including Juhi Chawla, Gracy Singh, Mahesh Bhatt and Subhash Ghai wished him peace and welcomed his return to the industry with a hope that he will reach great career heights in his second innings in B-Town.
The Bollywood star was arrested on April 19, 1993, for possession and destruction of an AK-56 rifle, which was a part of cache of arms and explosives which landed in India prior to the serial blasts of March 1993.
During the investigation and the marathon trial, he spent 18 months in jail. On July 31, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years' rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years following which he surrendered to serve the remainder of his sentence. According to jail officials, Dutt was assigned cane work making of paper bags in his cell due to security reasons.
Also, Dutt played his part in entertaining the inmates doing the role of "Radio Jockey" for the inner circuit YCP radio, comparing songs with the script. His release today is 103 days ahead of the end of his full prison term.
While addressing the media for the first time after his release, he thanked his fans and remembered his father late actor Sunil Dutt. He even urged the press to not link his name with the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, as he was only convicted in the Arms Act. Dutt signed off saying that 'I am not a terrorist, please don't portray me as that.
(With PTI inputs)