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Blasts ghost back to haunt Sanjay

Mumbai, March 1: A confessional statement attributed to gangster Abu Salem that garnishes known allegations against Sanjay Dutt was read out in court today, putting the glare back on the actor.

In the statement, recorded by the CBI on November 20, Salem has claimed he personally delivered an arms cache used in the 1993 Bombay blasts to the actor’s Pali Hill home.

If the gangster sticks to the written statement during cross-examination, Sanjay could find himself on a sticky wicket. Salem’s lawyers have, however, been contesting its admissibility.

“We will file a petition in a day or two saying we would like to retract the confessional statement as it was forced out of Salem under third-degree torture,” Salem’s lawyer Ashok Sarogi said.

Salem was the last of the three or four people linked to the arms transfer whose statement was yet to be taken up by court. Three others have withdrawn in court what police claimed were “confessions”.

To have any impact on Sanjay’s case, Salem will have to repeat in court the contents of the confessional statement. If he retracts, the prosecution would have to make good its claim that it has material evidence to prove the confession was voluntary.

In the statement, Salem claims one Aziz, a silver smuggler he had worked with, had asked him to accompany him to Bhiwandi in Thane to take delivery of a consignment.

Till it was delivered and opened in his presence at Sanjay’s residence a few days later ' the flooring and the sides of the vehicle were cut up ' Salem didn’t know it was filled with arms, and not silver, he claimed. So, he was an unknowing conduit who was only carrying out orders.

“I saw that inside there were about 9-10 rifles, 80-90 hand grenades, some magazines and bullets'

“Sanjay Dutt, Baba Chauhan and (Sameer) Hingora were picking up the guns and looking at them' Sanjay Dutt kept 2-3 guns, some grenades, bullets and magazines'” the statement said, adding he returned some of them a few days later.

Sanjay’s lawyer Farhana Shah declined comment.

SALEM ON SANJAY

Claims in the confession statement

• Brought consignment to Mumbai, but was not aware it had arms
• Left 9 to 10 rifles and 80 to 90 grenades at Sanjay’s Pali Hill home
• An unperturbed Sanjay checked the weapons
• A few days later, Sanjay returned some weapons

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