Some flowers strewn outside his room and a few dim candles were the only trappings of an otherwise muted birthday for an ailing Kersi Bapuji Adajania, who turned 83 by the Parsi calender on Tuesday. In the two decades since he helped actor Sanjay Dutt dispose of an AK-56 rifle at his foundry, Adajania has not received a single call or heard from the actor, his family says.
"Two years ago on Friendship Day, I saw some reports on television on how Sanjay Dutt had helped his friends. What has he done for his friends I wonder… In these 20 years, he has not called my father even once," Adajania’s son Viraf, 52, told The Indian Express.
While delivering its verdict on Dutt’s appeal on March 21, the Supreme Court also reduced
the TADA court’s two-year sentence to Adajania by a year.
Questioning the calls for Dutt to be pardoned, Viraf said, "Dutt has spoken of how he is 52 and works for a living, but what about my father? He is over 82 years old, partially deaf and has serious coronary problems. His movement is restricted. How can a man be reformed at such an old age by serving a prison term now?
"When I told my father about the verdict, he told me not to spend any more money on the case. We have already spent Rs 17-18 lakh on legal expenses, and we have financial constraints. He said he would somehow serve the sentence. But we don’t know what will happen to him if he goes to prison," said Viraf.
Besides visits from his son’s family, Adajania spends his days alone in a modest flat in Karim Manzil, an old building on JSS Road in Kalbadevi with commercial shops on the ground floor and a rickety wooden staircase leading to offices and residential flats above.
"Sometimes he is groggy in the morning as he has not had good sleep. Usually, after waking up, he has his tea, reads newspapers and watches television. Since he is hard of hearing, we have to tell him to turn down the volume as it can annoy others," said Viraf.
"My mother Shirin died of cancer on March 27, 2009, she broke her hip bone in a fall on May 8, 2008. She worked as a typist for 48 years. Twenty years ago, when this whole affair began, our family was really worried. She gave up going to work. Her death has affected my father greatly," said Viraf, who has taken over his father’s steel fabrication business.
Adajania’s outings are now limited to taxi rides with his son to a CBI office every month to sign on a register, and a walk to a fire temple across the street five times a month. After an angioplasty in February 1993, he developed coronary problems again in December 2006. He was advised a bypass surgery, but is yet to have one. He also suffers from severe vertigo. His family had placed his medical records before the Supreme Court.
"The rented workshop in Grant Road where the gun was disposed of is no longer with us. My father’s business naturally took a hit after he was arrested. Before the TADA court delivered its verdict in August 2007, he had to attend daily court proceedings from Monday to Friday, even if other aspects of the case were being discussed. It was later decided to call people in different time slots," Viraf said.
Adajania, however, has been in touch with co-accused Rusi Mulla, who was given the benefit of the Probation of the Offenders Act by the TADA court in 2007, and Yusuf Nullwalla, who was awarded a sentence of five years.
In his youth, Adajania was fond of hunting. Yusuf Nullwalla, to whom Adajania often used to sub-contract work, was also very fond of hunting and often spoke of hunting and his actor friend Sanjay Dutt. Nullwalla introduced Adajania to Dutt in 1986 and the three once went hunting to a place near Surat, where Adajania stayed with Dutt, Nulwalla and three or four others for two days. Adajania met Dutt only two or three times after that.
Following the serial blasts on March 12,1993 and the subsequent arrests of Hanif Kadawala and Samir Hingora, who delivered the weapons to Dutt’s Pali Hill residence, the actor called Nullwalla and asked him to dispose of the weapons. Nullwala took the AK-56 rifle and 9 mm pistol from Dutt’s house, and approached Adajania for help. The two melted the rifle at Adajania’s workshop using a gas cutter. As Adajania had to travel to Kolkata, he kept the pistol with his friend Russi Mulla for safekeeping till he returned, without telling him where it had come from.
"I meet Mulla at the fire temple often, and he enquires about my father. The Nullwalla family is also in touch with us, as we call each other to enquire about things like court dates and bail applications," said Viraf.