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Sanjay cry forces sign-off
- Signature campaign called off after actor’s appeal

Mumbai, Dec. 9: The men of the silver screen have called off their pen drive for their convicted comrade.

Bollywood associations today decided not to go ahead with next week’s signature campaign they had planned in support of Sanjay Dutt, prodded by an emotional appeal from the actor and the threat of contempt from the public prosecutor.

The Cine & TV Artistes Association, one of the 24 organisations that would have taken part in the December 12 campaign at Film City, Goregaon, issued a statement this evening after the actor himself requested them to call off the event.

Sanjay, convicted in the 1993 Bombay blasts case under the Arms Act for possessing an AK-56 rifle and a 9mm pistol, is yet to be sentenced.

In his appeal, the 47-year-old distanced himself from the campaign, said he and his family were not informed about it and reiterated his faith in the judiciary, but not before thanking the industry that never let him feel “orphaned” after his father’s “untimely” death.

“This is the only place I know… the movie industry. I was born into it and I have grown up in it,” he said.

“For me, the knowledge that members of my film family are there to support me and pray for me is motivation and blessing enough. I humbly thank everyone and request them to withdraw the signature campaign on December 12, 2006.”

“The rest is in God’s hands. Like I have always said, and I repeat again, I have full faith in our judiciary; the law will take its own course.”

Yesterday, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had threatened to start contempt proceedings against the organisers of the event for “interference” in the process of administration of justice. Nikam said such a public campaign in support of a convicted accused amounted to influencing the judiciary.

In its statement today, the cine association said the event, aimed at expressing the views of the film industry on Sanjay’s “humanitarian social contributions”, had been called off for being misinterpreted as a campaign to influence the course of justice.

“We had always said that the motto of the signature campaign has nothing to do with the judicial process, but it was organised only to express the personal views of the industry about Sanjay Dutt,” said Dharmesh Tiwari, the general secretary of the association. “We have never called an industry bandh and never appealed to the judiciary to free Dutt from the legal proceedings.”

Tiwari said the event had been misunderstood because of statements made by “certain individuals”, a reference to a comment by Sanjay’s friend and actor Suniel Shetty in a Mumbai newspaper that Bollywood would shut down on December 12. The cine association clarified that the industry had no plans for any such shutdown.

Away from the aborted campaign and the contempt trap, Sanjay continued with his pending assignments. With the clock ticking towards his court-ordered December 19 surrender, the actor finished the dubbing for Raman Kumar’s Sarhad Paar and will begin shooting for Indra Kumar’s Dhamaal, which is 70 per cent complete, industry sources said.

The actor had earlier met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and film producer Smita Thackeray at their Bandra bungalow.

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