Reuters: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt said on Thursday he won’t seek pardon after being sentenced to five years in jail by the Supreme Court last week for possession of illegal weapons in a case linked to the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
“Right now I am a shattered man, my family is shattered,” a visibly upset Dutt told reporters in Mumbai.
Last week, the Supreme Court rejected Dutt’s final appeal against a 2007 court judgement which sentenced him to six years in prison, but reduced the term by a year and ordered him to return to custody in four weeks. Dutt had already spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail.
The sentencing prompted a debate on whether the 53-year-old actor was judged too harshly, with many in the Bollywood film industry and Press Council of India chief Markandey Katju calling for him to be pardoned.
“I am not going for pardon, there is no debate about it,” Dutt said as he broke down and hugged his sister Priya, who sat beside him. “The honourable Supreme Court has given me time to surrender and I will surrender at that time.”
In 2007, the actor was cleared of conspiracy charges in the Mumbai serial blasts which killed 257 people, but was found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol. During his trial, he claimed the weapons were to protect him and his family during a period of rioting in Mumbai.
Dutt, popular for his role as a do-good gangster in the “Munnabhai” films, requested the media and well-wishers to leave him “in peace” as he just had a few days left before returning to prison.
“I have a lot of work, I have to finish all that work. I have to spend all this time with my family, so I with folded hands tell you all that just let me be in peace till the time I go in,” he said.
More than 2.5 billion rupees and the fate of various Bollywood movies hang in the balance after Dutt’s sentencing. The actor has four films in the pipeline, including Raju Hirani’s “Peekay”, K S Ravikumar’s “Policegiri”, Rensil D’Silva’s “Unglee” and Apoorva Lakhia’s remake of “Zanjeer”.