At exactly 8:45 am on Thursday, prisoner number C-16656 of Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail walked out, carrying a bag and some files, apparently containing his prison records. Clad in a blue shirt and jeans, he stopped after a few steps, kept his bag, touched the ground as a mark of respect, and then saluted the national flag hoisted on the jail’s main building.
Having walked into the jail in May 2013, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt walked out a free man eight months short of his five-year sentence for exemplary behaviour and good work in jail.
An hour before Sanjay Dutt was released, a few members of an organisation named Karjadar Hakk Sanrakshan Sangh raised slogans against Dutt’s release. They were detained and later released.
Asked about his feelings at the Pune airport, from where he took a chartered flight to Mumbai with wife Manyata, filmmaker-friend Raju Hirani and a few others, Dutt said, “It was not an easy walk to freedom, my friend.” Arriving in Mumbai, Dutt first went to Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi, central Mumbai, followed by a visit to his mother Nargis’s grave in Marine Drive, before heading home. Addressing the media at home — building Imperial Heights in Mumbai’s western suburb Bandra — later in the afternoon, Dutt said, “It is the most amazing feeling. For 23 years I have been waiting for this moment, for freedom. I did everything (abide by the law). It’s a feeling that will take a while to sink in.”