Mumbai: In a bid to prove that 2002 mishap involving Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was a hit-and-run case, the prosecution on Tuesday told the trial court that the deposition of witnesses indicated the actor had run away after the incident and did not take the injured to hospital.
Khan is accused of ramming his Land Cruiser SUV into a roadside bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002, killing one person and injuring four who were sleeping outside. The prosecution has also alleged he was drunk and was driving without a licence, a charge denied by the actor.
Soon after the mishap occurred at a place close to the residence of Khan, an angry mob converged at the spot and some of them were holding rods while a few others had stones in their hands, said Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat in his final arguments while referring to evidence of a witness.
Khan’s childhood friend and neighbour, Francis Fernandez, whom the actor fondly called as “Commander”, asked the 49-year-old actor to leave in a car driven by his wife. Khan soon went away in that car, Gharat said while quoting the deposition of Khan’s friend.
Fernandez, who stays near the place where the mishap occurred, had come to the spot after hearing the commotion that followed the accident.
Gharat, while dwelling upon evidence of Fernandez, said Khan had called out “Commander, save me”. The very next moment, Fernandez asked him to leave as he feared the mob, armed with rods and stones, might get violent and hit him.
“The actor ran away from the spot and did not help the victims by taking them to hospital”, said Gharat.
However, in his statement under Section 313 of CrPC earlier, Khan denied that he ran away and told the court that he had instructed his driver Ashok Singh, who was driving the car at the relevant time, to inform police and take the injured to hospital. Khan said he was at the spot for about 15 minutes and then left on the advise of his friend.
Gharat argued that the conduct of Khan in this case needs to be analysed and interpreted as this proves the guilt of the accused.
“His conduct shows that he was driving the car and therefore he ran away without helping the accused.”
Meanwhile, the actor was exempted from appearing in the case for the day as he had to go to Udaipur for a film shoot. Khan came to the court in the morning but his lawyer moved an application seeking exemption. As the prosecution did not object, the court allowed his plea.
Referring to the allegation made by Khan in the court that the police had attempted to “fix” him in the case, Gharat said a witness had testified that police had come to the spot on the second and third days also after the mishap to make inquiries from the people about the crash.
“If police had to fix Khan as alleged by him, then why police had gone there in the next two days after the mishap to conduct investigation?” he said.
The police was only doing its duty, he said and denied Khan’s allegation that he was falsely implicated.
The Prosecutor said some witnesses had testified in the court that there were only three persons in the car at the time of the mishap. They had said that first Salman got down from the right hand side of the car, followed by his police bodyguard Ravindra Patil and singer friend Kamal Khan. There is absolutely no reference to Khan’s driver, Ashok Singh, who had told the court that he, and not Khan, was driving the car.
If Singh was driving the car, the defence lawyer did not put suggestions to the witnesses during cross-examination to this effect. It only showed the story of Singh driving the car was cooked up at a later stage to save Khan, Gharat said.
The Prosecutor further said the car had a right hand drive position and Khan had got down from this side only. The witnesses in this case, who were injured and lying underneath the car, had heard people shouting “Salman Khan get down”. If Khan was not driving, why should they ask him to come out of the car? said Gharat.
This is a direct evidence against the accused (Khan) and why the version of these witnesses should not be believed? said the Prosecutor.
Moreover, these witnesses have not been confronted with a question that Singh, the fourth person, was also in the car and not just three persons as stated by them. The accused had an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses on these lines but he has chosen to keep quiet on this issue, said Gharat.
Also, there was no reason for Khan to go away from the spot without informing police or helping the injured, he said.
However, the actor had earlier told the court that he had instructed his driver Singh to inform police about the mishap and take injured to hospital.
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