‘One doesn’t go running for help to gangsters’

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Photo: Lakshman Anand

What was the case against Sanjay Dutt?
The case against him was one of getting weapons from underworld sources and of possessing them. These weapons consisted of AK-56 rifles, a lot of ammunition, a 9mm pistol and also some hand grenades. You know that in the 1993 serial blasts, there was a conspiracy and the weapons and explosives were smuggled into India by the Dawood Ibrahim gang. They were distributed among various underworld elements, and on March 12 the explosions took place at many places in the city. A part of the consignment was delivered to Sanjay Dutt by the Dawood Ibrahim gang and he had kept it at his house.
You are saying the consignment that came to Sanjay was part of the consignment smuggled into Bombay?
Yes, naturally.
In the verbal order, the TADA court judge observed that the CBI had not been able to link Sanjay’s weapon with the consignment smuggled into Bombay. What did your investigation show?
Well, I don’t know really what the judge has said. The detailed judgement is yet to come. What I know is that Sanjay Dutt has not been convicted under TADA. He has been convicted only for possession of illicit weapons. As far as the weapons being part of that consignment which came into India, well Sanjay Dutt himself said that he got them at the instance of Anees Ibrahim, the younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim. There was also evidence that he had been in telephonic conversation with Anees Ibrahim from his residence phone, and these weapons were obtained by Abu Salem and Hanif Kadawala and Samir Hingora. I think they were brought from Gujarat. An AK-56 is not a weapon which is available anywhere. It is a weapon that is prohibited. It is an assault rifle. Plus there were hand grenades. So even by common sense, it is a weapon brought into the country illegally by the underworld or terrorist groups.
Did he ever tell you why he felt the need for an assault rifle?Isn’t it surprising then that he has escaped TADA and has been booked only under the Arms Act? The relatives of the other co-accused are now protesting.
Many people have protested. I know that and it has been widely covered by the media. It is a little strange, no doubt, but I am actually anxiously waiting for the actual judgement to come out to know exactly what logic is advanced by the judge while acquitting him under TADA, even though he has been convicted under the Arms Act. As you know, mere possession of certain types of weapons in a notified area is an offence under Section 5 of TADA, so if nothing else, at least mere possession of certain types of weapons in a notified area that was Bombay should have been declared as an offence under Section 5. I mean, if he has been found guilty of possession, then he automatically becomes guilty under Section 5 of TADA. This is common sense, but one has to read the judgement before one gives a final view on this.
Well, in the very first statement he made before us (the Mumbai Police), he didn’t say why he had that weapon. He said that the suggestion came from Kadawala and Hingora and then he talked to Anees and then Anees sent these weapons to him through Salem and Baba Mussa Chauhan. But in his confession that he made a few weeks later before the dcp under the TADA Act, he gave an explanation that he received these weapons because his family was being threatened.
But he had three licenced weapons and he had Mumbai Police protection.
He did have licenced weapons, that is a fact. Later we found he had an unlicenced 9mm pistol which he had received earlier from a gangster.
Was Sanjay scared about how his father would react? Did he seek any leniency?
The question of leniency does not arise because he had acted against the law. In fact, when he was returning from Mauritius to India, it was Sunil Dutt himself who phoned up the police commissioner. Once he was found to have violated a law, and that too of this magnitude and seriousness, well, that was the end of the whole story.
How do you explain Abu Salem’s trial being separated from the blasts case?
I think it will become a little controversial, so I would not like to comment on this. This is an official position taken by the CBI. And the reason given by them was that they did not want any further delay of the main trial. Well, you can have your point of view. I may have my point of view. But if you ask me, I would have pushed for a joint trial because I think the case has already been delayed too long and I don’t think that would really have mattered much. Plus Abu Salem’s confessional statement was vital for proving the entire conspiracy.
But would you agree that the separation worked in Sanjay Dutt’s favour?
I think you can draw your own conclusion.
It defies logic that assault rifles and hand grenades are acquired from the underworld for self-protection, doesn’t it?
Really speaking, that explanation doesn’t convince me. It doesn’t cut any ice. One doesn’t go running for help to gangsters for self-protection. There are government agencies to fall back on and in his case it was easy, not even difficult, to get government help.
What evidence were you able to collect to prove that he had been in constant telephonic touch with Anees Ibrahim?
The prosecution would be in a better position to tell you this. What I know is that he made calls and the printout was available which showed that there were telephone calls. He himself said that he made the calls. This information came from him and only then did we get the supporting mtnl printouts for this information. And the telephone numbers he called were indeed of Anees Ibrahim. We got the telephone directory from Dubai through our embassy.