When actor Sanjay Dutt got hold of AK-56 rifle and 9mm pistol, little would he have thought that they would land him in TADA court or drag him into the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured over 700.
Illegal possession of weapons is a crime under Indian law and hence he has been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. (of which he has already served 18 months).
Sanjay Dutt announced on Thursday that he does not want to seek pardon and that he would surrender.
Bringing to closure the appeals of convicts, the landmark verdict on the 1993 blast was declared last week. While prime accused Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon are still evading law, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon has been awarded death sentence. The death sentence of 10 others, awarded by TADA court, was commuted to life.
What happened in 1993?
On March 12, 1993 (termed Black Friday in popular culture), a series of 13 bombs exploded in many parts of Mumbai including Bombay Stock Exchange building, Air India Building, Century Bazaar, Katha Bazaar, Plaza theatre, five-star hotel and Sea Rock at Bandra.
The attacks were coordinated by Dawood Ibrahim and his subordinate Tiger Memon. 100 of the 129 accused were found to be guilty and were convicted in TADA court.
Yakub Memon, a chartered accountant and brother of Tiger Memon, has been convicted for conspiracy. Three of his family members have been given life imprisonment.
Dawood Ibrahim is one of India's most wanted criminals. Inspite of Indian authorities providing evidence of Dawood Ibrahim living in Pakistan,the government of Pakistan denies it.
Ibrahim Mushtaq Abdul Razak Nadim Memon, better known as Tiger Memon, is an Indian gangster. He is wanted by Interpol and the CBI.
What is TADA?
Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) was an Indian law formulated for prevention of terrorist activities. The Act, which was criticised on various counts by human rights organisations and political parties, was permitted to lapse in 1995.
Why is there so much commotion about Sanjay Dutt’s sentence?
Fans, friends and people of the likes of Retd Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman Press Council of India, Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee have come in support of the actor Sanjay Dutt.
While some claimed that Sanjay was innocent, others maintained that he was a changed man.
How have critics reacted?
Critics opine that if Sanjay is pardoned, it would send the wrong message that one can escape law if he or she is powerful and popular.
Who has moved an appeal following Sanjay Dutt’s?
Zaibunissa Kazi, 70, who has been convicted for hoarding illegal weapon under TADA and sentenced to five years, has appealed to the governor of Maharashtra for clemency citing ill health.