For 23 years, I wanted to taste freedom: Sanjay Dutt

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Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt said on Thursday to be free is the most amazing feeling after serving 42 months in prison for possessing an AK-56 supplied by gangsters said to be behind a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993.

“After 23 years of struggle, I am happy that the wait has come to an end... I know it will take some time for me to convince myself that I am free,” Dutt told reporters at his residence in Mumbai.

“To be free is the most amazing feeling,” he added.

Dutt was arrested on April 19, 1993, for possessing and destroying an AK-56 rifle, which was a part of a cache of arms and explosives which landed in India prior to the serial blasts of March 1993. He spent 18 months in jail in 1993.

On July 31, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years.

“I miss my father today. If my father would have been alive, he would have been the happiest. His only fight was to see his son free,” he said.

“Dad, I am free today and I love you,” he said looking up at the sky.

Dutt had kissed the ground as he walked out of the Yerwada jail in Pune after authorities decided to release him ahead of schedule for good behaviour.

“I love my country and the Tricolour is my life. After coming out of the jail, I kissed the ground and saluted the flag,” he said as wife Manyata and his children looked on.

“One of the most important moments of my life was when judge PD Kode Sir told me that I am not a terrorist. There was nothing else that was bigger than that for me.”

Dutt had taken a chartered flight from Pune to Mumbai with wife Manyata and children Iqra and Shahran. He was greeted by fans at the airport and went on to pay obeisance at Siddhivinayak temple. He then visited his mother and late Bollywood actor Nargis Dutt’s grave.

The 56-year-old actor said he is looking forward to spending time with his family and getting back to work.

Dutt’s jail term has been controversial with accusations that he availed of irregular remission in his sentence and was accorded special treatment by the authorities. Authorities have denied the reports and maintained that Dutt’s remission days were calculated in accordance with rules and jail manual.

During his imprisonment, he was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and again for 30 days later.

The actor’s early release has come as a relief for the Dutt family which has undergone the ordeal of seeing him walk in and out of police stations, custody, court premises and jails from the day of his arrest in 1993.

His friends in the industry were also happy at his release. While filmmaker Raj Kumar Hirani, who will shortly start shooting a biopic on the actor, said he was “very happy”, director Subhash Ghai also said he wants to make a film with Dutt.

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