Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt has been released from a prison in the western Indian city of Pune.

Dutt, 56, was sentenced for firearms offences linked to the 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people and injured 713.

He was convicted of buying firearms from the bombers but said the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during Hindu-Muslim rioting.

The actor was moved to the Pune jail in 2013 to finish his five-year jail term.

But he was recently granted a remission of 144 days on the basis of good behaviour and activities like running a radio programme.

“His remission was worked out in compliance with jail rules and he was treated like any other convict,” the chief of Pune Yerwada Jail Superintendent UT Pawar told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Dutt kissed the ground as he walked out of the prison on Thursday morning and was driven to the airport on his way to Mumbai, where he lives.

Sanjay Dutt
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“I am out here because of their [fans’] support. There is no easy walk to freedom, my friends,” he was quoted as telling reporters by the AFP news agency.

One of Bollywood’s most bankable stars, Dutt is hugely popular for his role as a lovable gangster in the Munnabhai movies. He has also dabbled in politics.

The son of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, Dutt said he had bought the firearms to protect his family during the 1993 Mumbai Hindu-Muslim riots, which followed the destruction of the Babri mosque by Hindu zealots in the northern town of Ayodhya.

In 2006, a special anti-terror court convicted 100 people for the blasts. Twelve were given the death penalty and 20 others sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dutt, the most high-profile among the convicts, was originally charged with five offences, including criminal conspiracy and possession of illegal weapons.

In March 2013, India’s Supreme Court upheld his conviction, but reduced his sentence from the earlier six years to five.

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