THE pardon drama for prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai blast case Sanjay Dutt is now playing to the full gallery. But quite unfortunately for him a lot many people are asking some straight questions on the idiocy of the idea, much more than in the past. It is undeniable that during the 20 years long trial, first in the TADA court in Mumbai and then in the Supreme Court, there was a general sense of sympathy raked up by Congress sympathisers owing to Sanjay Dutt’s father being a popular film star himself and a Congress MP. Sanjay Dutt’s sister is also a Congress MP.
But the new generation of journalists, especially in the television news, are not buying the argument that a film star should be given special concession especially when his involvement has been with the underworld with Pakistani connections which wrecked mayhem and killed hundreds of people in repeated attacks in metro cities.
First, people who are in the forefront of seeking a pardon for Sanjay Dutt are Bollywood stars who are close friends of the convicted actor. Then there is the Chairman of Press Council of India Markanday Katju who has taken upon himself the mantle of seeking pardon for Sanjay Dutt on grounds that he has already spent 18 months in jail during the trial investigations. Almost all convicts have to put in months of police custody before being sentenced by the court. Does the logic that all such people should be pardoned hold any water? Sanjay Dutt, according to Katju, has been a victim of a long trial in which he was denied bank loans and other facilities of living a good life. But if you look at Sanjay Dutt’s lifestyle in the past 20 years it would not look as if he was a victim of any such circumstances. If one takes into consideration Sanjay Dutt’s super hit movies in the last 20 years, his earnings, his travels abroad and his well-known social parties in Mumbai, his ‘suffering’ is remarkable good for the pain it might have caused him. Sanjay Dutt’s biggest grosser films have been released during the last 20 years when the trial was going on and his earnings have also been at par with the biggest Bollywood stars these years.
Second, Katju talks about the way Sanjay Dutt brought back memories of Gandhism through his movie series ‘Munnabhai’ and that has helped in propagating the idea of non-violence! The fact of the matter is that Munnabhai was made with the sole idea of whitewashing Sanjay Dutt’s shenanigans and criminal past and bring about a new image. Can any other criminal who talks about Gandhigiri be allowed to go free after being jailed during trial? Only recently well-known Kashmiri terrorist Yasin Malik was hobnobbing with 26/11 prime accused Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan during a fast to protest against the execution of Afzal Guru in Tihar jail. Yasin Malik told national television from Pakistan that he is only following the footsteps of Gandhiji! Should we forgive Yasin Malik for all his past activities because he also invoked Gandhiji?
Katju also has mentioned that he is not taking up the case of Sanjay Dutt because the Bollywood actor is popular. But when asked why others convicted of terrorism and sentenced to much worse terms in punishment have not been taken up by him, Katju says in the same breath that if he is provided with details he would apply for pardon for all such people. Well, Katju does not explain how he came to know of Sanjay Dutt’s case if it weren’t for the popularity of the Bollywood star.
There are 98 people convicted in the same 1993 bomb blast case which killed over 275 people. There are others like Sanjay Dutt who have only been a go-between in the 1993 bomb blast case but have been convicted under TADA. Sanjay Dutt has been left out of the ambit of TADA charges because the CBI failed to press charges against him. Sanjay Dutt had a large cache of arms stored in his house meant for the blasts. He was also in touch with the underworld gangs even after the trial began. His phone transcripts of 2002 (nine years after the 1993 bomb blasts), published in newspapers in Mumbai reveal that he was in touch with Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim, Chotta Shakeel and many others when he knew very well that they were part of the deadly terror outfit operating out of Pakistan. People who seek Sanjay Dutt’s pardon are oblivious of these facts or choose to ignore them and pretend that Sanjay Dutt is innocent of anything other than keeping a few automatic rifles, hand grenades and ammunition at home. Sanjay Dutt was already in possession of licenced guns before he had brought guns and grenades from the D-gang in 1993.
Sanjay Dutt held a press conference stating that he will surrender and not apply for pardon. The moot point is that there are so many rich and famous people seeking pardon for him by writing to the governor of Maharashtra and the President that it does not make any difference if he himself doesn’t do it.