Pune, Aug. 21: If Sanjay Dutt is freed tomorrow, he will be taking home Rs 204 as the wage for his 16 days of labour at the Yerwada jail.
The Bollywood star, who demands crores for a single film, is being paid Rs 12.75 per day as an unskilled weaver of wickerwork.
“He hasn’t made any baskets or furniture yet, but has learnt to take measurements and weave the reeds together,” said Asim Sarode, a social activist who works with Yerwada inmates.
“When I met him the last time, he seemed at peace with himself but doubtful about the outcome of his bail plea. He kept asking me to reassure him.”
The torment would have increased for the actor because of the uncertainty over his release a day and a half after the Supreme Court granted him bail. He could walk out tomorrow evening — but it will be close.
The irony for Sanjay is that while the trial court’s delay in handing him a copy of the final judgment helped him get bail, the delay in the apex court bail order reaching his lawyers has held up his release.
Sanjay’s counsel in Mumbai, Farhana Shah, couldn’t approach the Tada (anti-terror) court for a release order this morning because she didn’t have the bail order.
The actor’s lawyers in Delhi received it late in the day, and if they fly to Mumbai tonight or early tomorrow morning, the order can be placed before the Tada court when it opens at 11am.
The formalities — which include the production of a Rs 5-lakh bail bond and two sureties of equal amount — need to be over quickly, preferably in a couple of hours.
The lawyers must bring the Tada court’s release order to Yerwada — a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Mumbai — by 4-4.30pm. Release formalities at the prison usually take an hour, officials said, and inmates can’t be freed after 5.30pm.
It will be poor consolation for Sanjay that an extra day’s labour would make him richer by another Rs 12.75.
Outside the jail, however, some are making several times that amount riding Sanju baba’s star value.
Irshad Ansari says he has been earning Rs 500-1,000 daily selling his plum cakes, which come with a spatter of coconut shavings on top and have been a hit with the media crew and fans laying siege to the jail.
“Earlier, I would earn just about Rs 200 a day here. I hope he isn’t let off today,” Ansari winked.
Savita tai, who sold guavas in the nearby market, switched to the jail gates today and promptly made Rs 300. Rajesh Naik sold three times the corns he usually does.
The crowd included hordes of schoolchildren who bunked their classes hoping Sanjay would be freed today. Many fans had come from Nashik or Mumbai.
Each time a car drove towards the jail, or a TV crew made any movement, the crowd would surge forward, braving police’s lathis.
“I went to Amarnath, Vaishnodevi and Mathura to pray for Sanjay Dutt,” Omprakash Dubey said, claiming he had worshipped on one foot for hours.
The delay, however, is cruelly cutting into Sanjay’s brief period of freedom, which could be over as early as August 27 if the Tada court can meet its deadline of handing him a copy of the judgment.
The actor must then surrender immediately and file another application for regular bail.