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Sanjay defends parole

Dutt outside his Bandra home. (PTI)

Mumbai, Dec. 21: Sanjay Dutt walked out of a Pune jail this morning on a 30-day parole that allowed him to leave prison for the second time in two months but denied that the authorities had done him any “special favours”.

“I am treated like any other inmate and I am grateful to the jail authorities for this,” the actor told reporters after reaching his Bandra home. “No special favours have been done for my release. Furlough and parole are governed by a set of rules and people get leave from jail on furlough and parole routinely.”

The 54-year-old had applied for parole in July and the sanction came on December 6 on the ground of his wife Maanyata’s illness. Some parties had then protested, accusing the Congress-NCP government of “favouritism”, while a tweet termed Dutt “India’s first freelance prisoner”.

The actor was, however, stuck in Yerwada jail for the next two weeks, with prison officials saying the formalities had not been completed. The delay coincided with a row ignited by pictures of his wife at a film-related event.

Earlier in October, the Bollywood hunk, who is serving the remaining 42 months of his five-year term in an arms case related to the 1993 Bombay blasts, had spent 30 days at home after receiving furlough, a relief allowed for good conduct.

Today, the Munnabhai star appealed to fans to pray for his wife. “My wife has a tumour in the liver. As you know, we have a family history of cancer. My mother and then my wife Richa Sharma were afflicted with cancer.”

He said it was “not correct to cast aspersions” on Prabhakar Deshmukh, the Pune divisional commissioner who sanctioned the parole on a recommendation from jail superintendent Yogesh Desai and assistant commissioner of police, Bandra, Shivaji Kolekar. “He cleared the application only after the doctor’s report about my wife’s illness was sent to him,” Dutt said.

Deshmukh said Dutt’s application came in July. “In September, I referred the application back, citing the specific government regulation (GR). The GR says the police and jail authorities have to verify the reason given in the parole application…. On November 26, the jail superintendent and the ACP, Bandra, submitted a report after speaking to the (Maanyata’s) doctor, specifying liver tumour as the ailment and recommending that parole be given.”