Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was set free from a Pune jail on Thursday and returned home here to savour ‘complete freedom’, 23 years after his legal problems began over his possession of an AK-47.
Dutt was accorded a warm welcome as he stepped out of Mumbai airport after flying from Pune in a chartered aircraft with his family members. It was followed by a tumultuous reception in Mumbai.
Earlier, Dutt was released around 8.35 a.m. from Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail (YCJ) where he served the remaining 42 months of his five-year-long rigorous imprisonment.
Carrrying a large shoulder bag and a small plastic bag containing documents, Dutt stepped out of the YCJ, kept the bags on the ground, turned around to kiss the ground and stood up to salute the Indian tricolor fluttering atop the jail building.
From there, accompanied by his wife Manyata, their twin kids Iqra and Shahran, sister and ex-MP Priya Dutt, close friends – including director Rajkumar Hirani – left for the Lohegaon Airport on Pune’s outskirts.
Dutt and his family boarded the waiting chartered plane and flew to Mumbai where a large number of fans were waiting for them outside the airport building.
From there, they drove to the famed Siddhi Vinayak Temple at Prabhadevi in Dadar and prayed to Maharashtra’s most popular diety, Lord Ganesh, even as thousands of fans cheered them.
The next stop was the Baba Kabrastan where the grave of his mother, the late actress Nargis Dutt, is located. He prayed there too.
Dutt sported a dark blue shirt and jeans, minus his traditional sunglasses, salt-pepper sparse hair and a stubbly beard, appearing physically weary but mentally relaxed.
Near his Bandra home, there was a contingent of drummers who played a deafening welcome tune for Dutt.
Ther were also large posters and huge banners welcoming the actor, and a special poster welcoming ‘Papa’ and ‘Uncle’ and ‘Bro’ from his wife and kids, sisters, nieces and nephews.
There were celebrations of different types organised by his fans and well-wishers.
These include a free meal of ‘Chicken Sanju Baba’ at south Mumbai’s Noor Mohammadi Hotel, 50 percent discount on all meals and free servings of a specially created item ‘Bhai-Baba Chal Mere Bhai’ at the Bhaijaanz Restaurant in Bandra, while an autorickshaw driver Sandeep Bachche offered free rides in Bandra to mark his freedom.