Fri, 17 May 2013 10:00:00 GMT | By Reuters

Sanjay Dutt returns to prison

Actor Sanjay Dutt will spend three-and-a-half years in prison, for possessing illegal arms.

Sanjay Dutt returns to prison (© Reuters)

Mumbai: Sanjay Dutt returned to prison on Thursday to serve the remainder of his five-year jail sentence for firearms offences during the Mumbai bombings 20 years ago.

Dutt, popular for his role as a do-good gangster in the 'Munnabhai' films, was sentenced to six years jail in 2007 for acquiring illegal weapons from men convicted for the 1993 attacks that killed 257 people.

He served 18 months but has been out on bail ever since, fighting the conviction.

In March, the Supreme Court reduced the 53-year-old actor's sentence to five years and ordered him back to jail, but in April the court gave the actor four extra weeks of freedom to finish some of his Bollywood films. A last-ditch petition was dismissed by the court on Tuesday.

Bollywood had reacted with shock to news of Dutt's sentencing with the actor seen by some fans as a victim of his star lineage and fame.

With two failed marriages and a history of drug abuse in his young days, Dutt is seen as the film industry's enfant terrible who failed to handle the pressure of being a celebrity child. His father Sunil was a popular actor-politician who married actress Nargis.

Clad in white kurta pyjamas and sporting a traditional "tilak" on his forehead, Dutt waved at waiting reporters before leaving his house amid heavy security on Thursday. The actor was accompanied by wife Manyata and sister Priya, a ruling Congress lawmaker from Mumbai.

Television channels broadcast footage of Dutt being taken to a Mumbai court in a grey-black vehicle. The actor was swamped by media at the court complex and had to beg reporters to move back so that he could get out of his car.

"I have to surrender," the actor said, gesturing with folded hands. "Please move back! I need to go upstairs."

TV channels said Dutt was taken to a prison in Mumbai at night but was expected to be transferred to another in Pune.

The beefy action hero was the most high profile of 100 people involved in the Mumbai bombings trial which ended in 12 people receiving the death penalty and lifetime sentences for others.

In 2007, Dutt was cleared of conspiracy charges in the attacks but found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol, which he claimed he required to protect himself and his family during a period of rioting in Mumbai.

The actor is best known for his turn in 'Lage Raho Munnabhai', a comedy about a gangster espousing Gandhian values that won the popular film prize at the National Film Awards for 2006.

Dutt, who has 1.1 million fans on Twitter, hasn't tweeted since March.

Projects worth up to 2.5 billion rupees and the fate of several Bollywood movies hung in the balance after the Supreme Court's ruling in March but the actor was said to have wrapped up filming for most pending projects in the last few weeks.

At least one film, the third 'Munnabhai' comedy in which Dutt was to reprise his role, has been put on the back burner.

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