On December 10, the Bombay High Court acquitted actor Salman Khan, 13 years after a man named Nurullah Sharif was killed in a hit and run incident.
While dismissing the prosecution's case, Judge AR Joshi also dismissed the statement given by Mumbai police constable Ravindra Patil, and said he cannot be considered a 'wholly reliable witness'. The Mumbai sessions court in May 2015, had convicted the actor of killing one person and injuring four others in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
At the time of the incident, Ravindra Patil was assigned to be Salman Khan's bodyguard, after the actor complained of threats from the underworld.
A 1998 batch constable, Patil consistently maintained until his death that he was sitting beside Khan when the latter ran over five sleeping pedestrians, one of whom succumbed to his injuries, in Bandra. When the conviction in May came, many people felt had been let down by the judiciary and the state. Patil, , had been assigned as a bodyguard to the actor .
A video of Patil's life
It was Patil who lodged an FIR against Khan, and in his statement to the earlier court which heard the case, said he had warned the actor to drive slowly since he was in an inebriated condition. However, Khan did not heed the warning, Patil had said. Patil was reportedly under enormous pressure to change his statement against the actor and even went missing during the course of the trial. He had reportedly gone into hiding in order to avoid Khan's lawyers and also alleged harassment from within the police force.
Ironically, Patil was arrested in 2006 for failing to appear as a witness and in November that year he was sacked from the force. Less than a year later, in August 2007, Patil was found on the streets near Sewri and admitted to hospital where he died in October. He had been suffering from tuberculosis for two years, and his family had abandoned him. Picture courtesy- BhadasMedia Mid-Day reported that Patil had told a friend two days before his death that he was saddened by the treatment he had been subjected to. “I stood by my statement till the end, but my department did not stand by me. I want my job back, I want to survive. I want to meet the police commissioner once.”
It was two days before the 29-year-old bodyguard’s young friend Sushant Sawant, who had admitted Patil to the hospital. His signature was needed to release the body from the hospital. Mid-Day quoted Sawant as saying: “Patil was a good friend. He had taken me to meet Salman.”
(A version of this story was published in May 2015)