Salman walks free: 13 years after, hit-and-run victims await compensation

Though their lives were turned upside down, those injured in the accident are not hopeful of getting any compensation

The 2002 hit-and-run accident killed one and injured four other workers from the A1 Bakery, who were asleep on the pavement. Nurullah Sharif was killed, while Abdullah Shaikh, Muslim Shaikh, Munnu Khan and Mohammed Kalim were injured.

Francis Fernandes, an eyewitness was seen giving an interview at the spot on Hill Road, where Salman Khan’s Land Cruiser had claimed a life on that fateful September day in 2002. However, what caught our eye was a man lying on the pavement, seeming oblivious to the fact that this pavement was once home to several others like him, who slept one night and never woke up. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Francis Fernandes, an eyewitness was seen giving an interview at the spot on Hill Road, where Salman Khan’s Land Cruiser had claimed a life on that fateful September day in 2002. However, what caught our eye was a man lying on the pavement, seeming oblivious to the fact that this pavement was once home to several others like him, who slept one night and never woke up. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

mid-day contacted Muslim Shaikh, and Munnu Khan, two of the victims who were injured on that fateful September morning in 2002, while sleeping on the pavement outside the American Express laundry. Even after 13 years, Muslim Shaikh still isn’t able to walk properly. He claims that he has received only Rs 1.75 lakh in 2007 as his compensation.

Speaking to mid-day Shaikh said, “Since the time of the incident I have settled in a small village in Uttar Pradesh as I cannot take care of the expenses of my family members, while existing on one leg. It had become difficult for me to survive in the city, so I opted to live in my native village.”

He added, “I don’t even remember what happened. I was asleep when the incident took place, and due to its impact, I was lodged under the car, unconscious. When I regained my consciousness I was in the Bhabha Hospital.”

‘Don’t know who was driving’
When asked whether he saw Salman Khan driving the car, he said, “When I was in hospital, everyone around me was saying that Salman Khan was driving the car. But, I seriously don’t know what had happened. Nobody has approached me from his side since that day.”

The doctors in UP claim that the steel rod in Muslim Shaikh’s left leg, which was joined after the incident has been damaged, and he does not have the money to get it fixed. “The doctors claim that the rod is damaged and needs to be changed, but I am not able to do so.”

Munnu Khan, another victim, who still works at A-1 Bakery in Mumbai, says he accepted the court decision. Because of the accident, Khan still faces problems in his right leg. He said, “Jo court faisala kiya wohi humara faisala hai (The court’s decision is my decision).”

‘Saw Salman driving’
When asked if he saw Salman driving the car, Khan replied in the affirmative. He said that he told the court the same thing that he saw on the night of the accident. He adds that he wouldn’t lie about such a thing, and punish himself in the process.

Regarding his injuries, Khan said that he was hospitalised on the day of incident, and was discharged after 24 hours. Later, he was going being treated by a private doctor. His right leg — which was injured during the accident — is still problematic, especially during the winter. The compensation that he received did not even cover his treatment. However, Khan says that he doesn’t expect any compensation from anyone.

Voices

Alvira Agnihotri, Salman’s sister
I am happy and have informed my father about the verdict

Majeed Memon, Advocate
The high court found that it was wrong to eliminate reasonable doubt on two issues. Firstly, if Salman was driving the SUV was not established and secondly, it was also not proved if the actor was drunk. Also, the victim’s family can approach the apex court but I think it seems difficult to get the conviction restored.

Julio Ribeiro, Former Mumbai Police Commissioner
It was a good case that was thoroughly investigated. It is very difficult to say where the police went wrong. I feel bad for constable Ravindra Patil. I am in touch with some of his friends who claim that he was living a very decent life. Finally, he met with a sad end.

YC Pawar, Former Joint Commissioner of Police
The sessions court has scrutinized all the evidence and has given its judgement on the basis of that. I would not be able to comment on why Salman was acquitted by the HC. As far as the investigations are considered I feel that there was nothing wrong with the police investigations

Baba Siddique, Congress MLA from Bandra west
It is a great relief to Salman’s family, friends, well wishers and to Salman himself. We have complete faith in our judiciary and accept the court’s decision.


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