Mumbai: When Sunil Dutt asked son Sanjay back in 1993 that why had he kept such sophisticated weapons despite knowing that it was illegal to have them, Sanjay replied,“ Mere ander bhi ek musalman ka khoon daud raha hai,”. The backdrop of this emotional and honest confession were the riots caused after the demolition of Babri Masjid. Sanjay Dutt was arrested soon after speaking these words.
Since 1993, whenever actor Sanjay Dutt has appeared before the court in connection with 1993 blasts, there hasn’t been dearth of sympathetic voices from Bollywood and his supporters who think that Indian law has gone too harsh on the 53-year old actor. But on a closer examination, it is learnt that Dutt actually deserved a much harsher punishment than awarded to him for his complicity in the serial bombings. Tehelka Magazine, through its insightful piece published back in 2007, revealed how Dutt managed to escape the clutches of TADA, even when all the evidence pointed otherwise.
According to Tehelka’s investigation, everything from Dutt’s original confession to the testimonies of all involved accused explicitly suggested that he had ‘close relations’ with all the major plotters of the bombings from Anees Ibrahim to Abu Salem. Yet, at time of filing the chargesheet by CBI, there was nothing mentioned about his call records. What Dutt admitted was that he had called Anees ‘several times’ and sophisticated weapons from him. Anees, who is the brother of mastermind of 1993 blasts Dawood Ibrahim, finally complied and sent him 20 grenades, three AK-56s and some ammunition on January 16, 1993 through Abu Salem. Dutt confessed that it was he who called Anees and not the other way round as believed by many. Yet, this clinching piece of evidence didn’t find a mention in the chargesheet filed by CBI in 1993.
“The crucial information that Sanjay had been calling Anees came from the filmstar himself. Says MN Singh, who headed the investigation, “He himself said that he had made the calls. This information came from him and only then did we get the supporting MTNL printouts.” The printouts showed that seven calls had been made to Anees’s number at White House in Dubai. The police also took a sworn affidavit from the Indian Embassy in Dubai saying that the Dubai number to which the calls were made by Sanjay was indeed that of Dawood’s brother. The police also procured the Dubai telephone directory which mentioned the same number against Anees’s name. Only a few of the over 150 accused in the serial blasts case had been in touch with either Dawood or Anees while the blasts conspiracy was being hatched. Sanjay was one of them. All these records were handed over to the CBI. However, when the time came to pin Sanjay down in court, the CBI chose to omit the record related to the telephone calls in its final submission against Sanjay before the TADA court. The prosecution’s submission, a copy of which is with Tehelka, reveals that the CBI has not brought the telephone conversation-related evidence on record. Sources in the CBI said that since the court had not accepted the telephone records as evidence against Sanjay, they decided to delete them from their written submission. Maneshinde also revealed that the calls “have not come on record,” reads the extract from Tehelka.
Though Dutt may not have a role in planning the serial bombings of 1993, but two other accused in the case Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala reportedly confessed that Dutt asked Anees to do something after the riots that followed demolition of Babri Masjid.
“Bhai, yeh shahar mein kya ho raha hai? Kuch karoge nahi?,” Sanjay was heard saying to Anees. Even these testimonies were dropped from final chargesheet filed by the CBI.
Another discrepancy that one encounters while reading Dutt’s statement is that he had sought AK-56 and grenades for ‘self-defense’, as he was being threatened in wake of communal riots. But one wonders how come an actor, also the son of an influential MP, didn’t go for protection to authorities and instead trusted dreadful underworld don. And why did Dutt need more weapons when he already had several handguns in his possession.
What is perhaps the biggest irony of the whole trial is that while Dutt was sentenced under a milder Arms Act despite having ordered the weapons and having intention of using it, his friends Zaibunissa Kazi and Manzoor were tried and later implicated under draconian TADA Act. Zaibunissa is believed to have kept the two rifles returned by Dutt for couple of days at her residence, while it was Manzoor’s car which was used to transport the rifles from Dutt’s place to Zaibunissa’s house.
Not only Zaibunissa and Manzoor, but even Yusuf Nallwala, who was directed by Dutt to destroy the sole AK-56 under his possession was convicted of destruction of evidence under the Arms Act, while Dutt remained free from blame.
“Sanjay called up Nullwala from Mauritius and told him to collect the weapon and ammunition from his bedroom and destroy them. Accordingly, Nullwala collected one AK-56 rifle, two empty magazines, 250 rounds of ammunition and one 9mm pistol from the Dutt residence. He took the weapons to a friend, Karsi Bapuji Adajenia, who was in the steel fabrication business. Adajenia melted down the AK-56 with the help of a gas cutter. Nullwala threw the pieces into the sea in front of Oberoi Towers, Nariman Point. Subsequently, the police recovered AK-56 cartridges from the boulders at Marine Drive. But, apart from its spring and rod, the melted-down remains of the AK-56 could never be recovered,” says Tehelka.
Even Dutt’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde admitted on Tehelka’s spycam during time of sentence that he expected the court to sentence Dutt under TADA Act, especially after Zaibunnisa Kazi was implicated under Section 3(3) of same act.
In 2005, Abu Salem was extradited back to India after evading law for over a decade. Salem, reportedly, told the invesytigating agencies about Dutt’s ‘warm relations’ with both Dawood and Anees at time of the blasts. But what appears to be mockery of justice, his trial was not linked to that of Dutt. Despite Salem being a crucial piece in the whole jigsaw of Dutt and Mumbai Blasts conspiracy, his testimony against the actor was disregarded.
As Sanjay Dutt has been given four weeks to surrender, the larger question still remains. Did he know that bombings were to take place in Mumbai in 1993?
A total of 257 persons were killed and 713 others injured in the serial blasts which rocked the western metropolis on March 12, 1993.