Three key eyewitnesses on Tuesday told a sessions court that they saw actor Salman Khan getting down from the driver’s seat of an SUV, 12 years after it ran over a group of people in Bandra. One person was killed and four others were injured in the accident on the night of September 28, 2002.
The eyewitnesses — Mannu Khan, Mohammed Kalim Iqbal Pathan and Muslim Shaikh — were among those injured. They were all workers of the American Bakery outside which the accident took place.
Khan was present in court. Even while the actor’s lawyers have argued for more than a decade that he was not at the wheel, the witnesses said they saw Khan getting out from the driver’s side of the Toyota Land Cruiser a little after 2 a.m. on September 28.
While one witness said he saw the actor getting down from the front door on the right hand side, the other said he had seen Salman getting down from the driver's seat. Another witness said the actor had got down from the vehicle but did not remember from which side he got down.
At the end of the proceedings, the Bandra police moved an application to the court saying that Shaikh had received a threat calI. Inspector Rajendra Kane of the Bandra police station said that a case had been registered and the investigation was underway.
“Shaikh told us that he had received two anonymous calls asking him to back away from deposing. The court has directed us to investigate the complaint and submit a report by May 19. We are tracing the caller,” he said.
“We were sleeping and there was a huge noise and a car came over us. Kalim, Muslim, Nurullah and I were beneath the car. I started screaming for help. Many people came there. Somehow they pushed the car and rescued us. I had an injury on my right hand. People were saying ‘Salman come out’. Salman Khan got down from the driver's side…The bakery people caught Salman. Salman was so drunk that he fell down, then he got up and ran away,” said Mannu Khan.
Through the day-long proceedings, Khan dressed in a white shirt and jeans sporting a French beard, sat in the accused box at the end of the court room following the trial.
Flanked by his sisters Alvira and Arpita, Salman was seen dozing off.
A 22-year-old fan from Pune who said she has been attending all the proceedings made the journey to Mumbai.
If convicted, the actor faces imprisonment of up to 10 years in jail. In 1998, Khan spent a few days in prison for killing blackbuck deer, an endangered species, in Rajasthan.
In the accident, the actor’s SUV allegedly jumped over a footpath where the victims were sleeping. Khan was earlier booked for rash and negligent driving. But later, the court observed that he could be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
He then moved an application for fresh examination of witnesses on the grounds that the witnesses were previously examined for lesser charges against him. His application was granted by the court and a re-trial was ordered.
So far, four witnesses have deposed in the re-trial. One among them is a panch witness and the other three are eye witnesses. The prosecution led by Jagannath Kenjralkar will examine other three witnesses on May 19.