‘Sanjay Dutt should do prayaschitt’

published on March 26, 2013

The controversy continues. Should film star Sanjay Dutt carry out the 5 year jail sentence handed down to him by the Supreme Court for his serious offences in connection with the Mumbai blasts of 1993 ?

The general public sentiment seems to be yes, he should, since the offences were grave enough, even though he was not convicted of the actual blasts. The reports are that he was in possession of AK- 56 rifles and other ammunition, was in contact with criminal underworld dons etc. Further, others who were also in his similar situation, are going to be incarcerated for 5 years. Why not him ? Is it because he is a film star and a small coterie of people are rooting for him ? Is this not sending out the wrong message to the Indian public and so on . What about the aam admi, what about the 71 year old woman Zaibuniza Kwazi, who could arguably have been misled by one of the conspirators into carrying bags with rounds to Sanjay Dutt’s residence.  Her daughter claims that an unknown young man befriended the lady, often dropping in for chai and conversation. In hindsight we know what he was upto, but it is entirely possible that this elderly woman was fooled into thinking that she was merely transporting harmless goods to the film star’s residence.

On the other hand you have frivolous arguments put forward by no less a person than Digvijay Singh. Sanjay is not a terrorist says our politician and he acted like a child ! Then there is former Chief Justice Katju pleading for humanitarian reasons. Sanjay has suffered enough, he has already served 18 months and so on. Understandably, the film world has closed ranks around the film star. There was an interesting note, however, with Mahesh Bhatt speaking about the gene in Sanjay which gravitated towards powerful and criminal characters, if one is to understand Bhatt’s convuluted arguments. The Indian reader, ofcourse, knows that Bhatt is sympathetic to the film star.

Well, well, Mr. Digvijay Singh, since when can a man in his early 30s be called a child ? He must surely have known the gravity of his seeming collaboration with underworld characters (with whom he had telephone conversations and from whom he purchased the ammo). The 1993 blasts killed 278 people and injured 700 and many victims have not yet been traced.

And in the 18 months that Sanjay Dutt served in prison he must surely have received VIP treatment. In the last twenty years he made films which brought him a fabulous income. And if he played the role of a fellow who became a Gandhian, he also played criminals. He was an actor and to argue that he spread Gandhigiri around and therefore should be exonerated  is ridiculous.

However, the real solution , in the opinion of the present writer, should be that Sanjay Dutt must willingly do prayaschitt. Instead of the sorry spectacle of his going on his knees and asking for pardon from the governor or exploring other legal options such as petitions to the President for commuting his sentence, Sanjay Dutt must show that he understands the gravity of his offence. Let him show some real change.

1. He was involved, however indirectly, with criminal characters who carried out the blasts. The Supreme Court has, in its wisdom, affirmed that he was guilty of a serious offence, not in actually carrying out the blasts but in his possession of ammo.

2. Could a man in his thirties have not known that the ammo in his possession was part of a wider consignment of ammo which was being distributed and stored locally and could be used at the proper time ?

Sanjay must willingly do his prayaschitt and during that period he can reflect on helping out such undertrial prisoners, such as Sadhvi Pragya, who has not been convicted, has been tortured both physically and mentally and who was even refused bail to attend her father’s funeral, and who is suffering from cancer.

Dr. Subramania Swamy was quite right in asking former Chief Justice Katju to take up the case of the Sadhvi. And why not ?

Sanjay Dutt should consider his 5 year term as prayaschitt. While on the topic, to date, the present writer has not seen any of the English television channels such as NDTV and CNNIBN devote any time to the Sadhvi while spending hours on Sanjay Dutt.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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