Twelve years after actor Salman Khan’s Toyota Land Cruiser allegedly ran over homeless men sleeping on the pavement near the American Express Bakery in suburban Bandra, three victims identified him in the court Tuesday.
While one person was killed, four were injured in the incident. The witnesses told the court that they saw the actor get off his car on September 28, 2002, after the accident.
The three witnesses, who deposed Tuesday, were Manu Khan, Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan and Muslim Shaikh. All of them worked at the bakery, which was hit by the car.
While Pathan, who was injured in the incident, told the court that he saw Salman get out of the driver’s seat, the other two did not mention where he got out from. Salman’s lawyer Shrikant Shivde said the deposition does not affect their case at all. “We have, since the beginning, maintained that Salman was present at the spot. The depositions only strengthen our version. No one told the court that they saw Salman drive the car,” Shivde said.
The three witnesses told sessions court judge D W Deshpande that they saw the actor get down from the car. He was held by the people who were shouting “nichey utro (get down)”. Salman was allegedly held by the people, but another person, who also got down from the vehicle, said he was a policeman and hence they released the actor. The crowd, which held Salman, allegedly dispersed, the witnesses claimed.
The Bandra magistrate court, in the past, had recorded their statements. But after the magistrate court enhanced the charges from rash and negligent driving to culpable homicide, the witnesses were summoned once again for fresh deposition. Under the revised section, Salman, if held guilty, can be punished for 10 years.
According to the prosecution, the Toyota Land Cruiser was driven by Salman who was under the influence of liquor. So far, four witnesses have deposed in the re-trial. The main witness, Ravindra Patil, Salman’s police bodyguard, who had claimed to have warned him against rash driving, has died. But as per the Evidence Act, his testimony against the actor can be taken on record by the court. The court has adjourned the matter till May 19 when public prosecutor Jaganath Kenjalkar will examine three more witnesses.
Towards the fag end of the proceedings, the Bandra police informed the court that Shaikh had allegedly received two anonymous calls asking him to back out from deposing.