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I am the only earning member of my family, Sanjay tells court

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
November 28, 2006 16:12 IST
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It was a tense moment for actor Sanjay Dutt in the courtroom on Tuesday, as he waited anxiously to know his fate in the 1993 blasts case. 

Sanjay Dutt arrived with his entourage at the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act designated court some 10 minutes before judge Pramod Kode.

Before leaving home he hugged his sister Priya Dutt and met all his close friends before driving away in his car, a Toyota Innova.

Ten cars followed Dutt on his way to the court, and journalists filled another 10 cars trailing him to the courtroom.

The court began its proceedings at 11.30 am, and Sanjay Dutt's time came at an hour later.

Just before the verdict was delivered, Sanjay Dutt stepped out of the court-room for a smoke to relieve the tension but his face reflected the nervousness he felt inside.

As he stepped in to the box, Judge P D Kode merely pronounced , 'Guilty', setting off a flurry of reactions in the court-room.

Sanjay Dutt immediately tried to say something to the judge who told him to keep quiet. "I will give you a chance to speak. Please Wait," the judge told him.

The judge's next few words must have come as sweet music to the Bollywood actor whose career is on a high after the blockbuster Lage Raho Munnabhai: "I have not found him (Sanjay Dutt) a terrorist."

However, the judge found him guilty of possessing a deadly weapon under the Arms act.

At this point Sanjay Dutt asked the judge, "When will you give me time to talk?" and Judge Kode said, "I will give you your time. You just wait."

Sanjay then told the judge: "I am the only earning member of my family, I have to support my family," obviously praying
for some leniency.

Defence lawyer Satish Maneshinde told the judge, "Sanjay has a daughter to support financially and also there was money involved in films that he was acting in so he needs bail."

Judge Kode told him to submit whatever he wants in a written application.

He then went to announce his judgement, that the court had found Sanjay Dutt guilty primarily on three accounts:
his own confession statement; the confession statement of his co-accused; and recovery of weapons from his
residence as evidence.

Judge Kode said, "Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist but he kept the weapons for his own protection."

Sanjay Dutt was charged with involvement in the 1993 bomb blasts conspiracy. The Central Bureau of Investigation had further charged him with keeping an AK-56 and a gun delivered to him by other co-accused in the blasts case, Samir Hingora and Abu Salem.

Dutt in his confession statement to the CBI had said he and his late father Sunil Dutt had sheltered hundreds of Muslim
families and gave lot of aid to them during the 1992 Mumbai riots, thus causing ire to right-wing Hindu fundamentalists.

Sanjay Dutt too received threatening calls and feared that his entire family would be wiped out in the riots. 

According to the police, fearing for his life Sanjay Dutt ordered an AK-56 rifle and hand grenades from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's brother Anis Ibrahim, and Abu Salem delivered the weapons and grenades to the actor in January 1993.

'I feared for my life and that of my family so I had to take this drastic step,' Dutt had said in his confessional statement.

Judge Kode further said Sanjay Dutt could apply for bail and he was then given bail for three weeks till December 19.

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai