NEW DELHI – Indian actor Sanjay Dutt surrendered before a Mumbai court Thursday to begin serving time for a weapons conviction linked to a deadly terror attack in the city in 1993.
India's Supreme Court sentenced Dutt to five years in prison in March for illegal possession of weapons supplied by mafia bosses linked to the terror attack, which killed 257 people in the Indian financial capital and entertainment hub.
The 53-year-old actor served 18 months in jail before being released on bail in 2007 pending an appeal, so he's to spend the next 3 1/2 years behind bars. The Supreme Court reduced his prison sentence to five years from the six-year term initially handed down.
Earlier this month, the court rejected Dutt's plea seeking review of its judgment on his conviction and jail term.
Dutt was convicted for possession of an automatic rifle and a pistol that were supplied to him by men subsequently convicted in the Mumbai bombings.
Dutt arrived in court Thursday accompanied by his wife, Manyata, and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. He was also accompanied by several friends from the Indian film industry. Dozens of cameramen, photographers and fans thronged outside his house and the courtroom. At the court, Dutt was forced to stay in his car before emerging to request the crowds make way.
Despite the long-drawn trial over the bombings, Dutt's Bollywood career has flourished over the past 20 years. He gained enormous popularity for a series of Hindi films in which he played the role of a reformed thug who follows the teachings of nonviolence advocate and Indian independence hero Mohandas Gandhi.
According to industry estimates, Dutt is currently involved in projects worth at least $20 million.
Dutt has said he knew nothing about the bombing plot and that he asked for the guns to protect his family — his mother was Muslim and his father Hindu — after receiving threats during the religious riots that preceded the bombings.
The 1993 bombings were seen at the time as the world's worst terrorist attack, with 13 bombs exploding over a two-hour period across Mumbai. Powerful explosives were packed into cars and scooters parked near India's main Bombay Stock Exchange and other sites in the city. In addition to those killed, more than 720 people were injured in the attack.