The irrepressible Shatrughan Sinha has stood by Sanjay Dutt for the last 20 years in the latter’s struggle for freedom. And now even though his parent-party, the BJP, stands by the honourable Supreme Court’s decision to send Sanjay back to jail, Shatrughan is all for leniency towards Sanjay.
Speaking exclusively to DNA he said, “Whatever I am today as a politician and actor, I’ve learnt from Sanjay’s father Sunil Dutt saab. He has been a constant source of inspiration. And Sanjay is very close to me. I’ve struggled with him for all these years as he has been fighting for his freedom. It pains me to see Sanjay standing where he is right now. I’ve been with him in this battle to prove his innocence for 20 years.”
The forthright politician-actor recalls, “The first time Sanjay went to jail I was the only one there with his father, when Sanjay got bail. I was with Sanjay when he went to meet Balasaheb Thackeray to put forward his defence. I’ve supported his craving for freedom because I believe Sanjay is not a terrorist.” Sinha finds the current wave of empathy for Sanjay in the entertainment industry very ironical. “I want to ask those who are shedding crocodile tears for Sanjay, trying to show how aggrieved and concerned they are about his predicament, where were you all these years when he lived in the fear of losing his freedom? I am sure these opportunists will soon disappear.”
At this time his main concern is Sanju’s family and children. “My heart truly weeps for Sanjay’s wife Maanyata and his beautiful children. I know Sanjay is putting up a very brave front. But he is broken from inside and worried for his family. The family has suffered with Sanjay all these years.”
In a move that could earn him his political party’s wrath, Shatrughan defends Sanjay’s right to remain outside prison. “I am not saying, forgive him. Nor do I question the honourable Supreme Court’s judgment. We must respect the law of the land. However, my humble submission is that Sanjay has suffered enough for his folly. He is not a terrorist. Just a person who happened to fall into a wrong company. He may have been connected with wrong elements but he’s a good soul. Look at his track record. His role as Munnabhai has influenced such a wide range of people to adopt Gandhian love towards humanity. I wish there was some way he would not have to face prison. I see a glimmer of hope. Justice Katju has asked the governor of Maharashtra to pardon Sanjay. I respect his opinion and I am with him on this.”
As for the question of why pardon and leniency for Sanjay when so many have suffered during terror attacks, he counters, “The naysayers may turn around and ask me, ‘What about the victims of the 1993 bomb blast?’ I say, let me know if there are other people who have suffered. I am willing to take up their cause. Sanju is a part of film fraternity. He is the son of one of my biggest inspirations. Why should I not fight for his freedom when he’s so close to me? Look at Sanjay’s public conduct in recent years. I pray that pardon will be granted to him. He has suffered enough for his folly. My family and I are praying for his pardon.”