How many of you hate going to the court? How many of you don’t like how witnesses are grilled in criminal cases by defense lawyers? Well, if I go by Patil’s example, then all of you should be put in jail. Believe it or not, Ravindra Patil was sent to jail because of this ‘crime’. The special police team swooped down on him, arrested him and produced him at the court, the next day. The court sent him to the Arthur Road jail, the biggest jail in Mumbai where most of the high-profile criminals are lodged. In the Arthur Road jail, Ravindra Patil was incarcerated in a separate cell like they would treat an armed dacoit or a serial killer. Patil submitted fervent pleas that he doesn’t want to be grouped with criminals at the Arthur Road jail but the court was in no mood to relent.
Twice, Patil had filed applications saying that he is a witness and he should be held at Unit nine of the Crime Branch and twice the court ignored the application. In his applications, Patil went on record saying that he went absconding as he was mentally disturbed at the thought of being cross-examined by the defense lawyers. But, nobody seemed to be interested in what he was saying. A ‘missing’ Patil suddenly became an ‘absconding’ Patil in own files and subsequently got sacked from his job. This junior-most employee in the force tried every trick in the book to convince his senior officers that he should not be sacked from his job. But nobody was ready to listen. A witness was suddenly at the receiving end of it. Life was dealing this grand witness blows after blows while Salman Khan delivered hits after hits at the box office. After Patil was let out of jail, he found himself in a strange situation — his family had disowned him and the Mumbai Police was not ready to take him back. Patil didn’t know what to do — suddenly he was the victim because he saw the accident and spoke about it. Patil went missing again and was finally discovered at the Sewri Municipal hospital in 2007. Patil was begging on the streets of Mumbai before he landed up at the hospital. The years of acute stress coupled with heavy drinking had made his body weak. Worse, he had contracted drug-resistant tuberculosis which fast-tracked him towards an inevitable end. Patil wanted to get back to the police force but he was just a bag of bones lying on bed number 189 of ward number four on the fourth-floor of Sewri TB Municipal Hospital. His family members were not aware where he was and nobody had come to see him for a year. Even after his death, there was nobody to take back his body. The friend who had admitted him to the hospital was so scared that he didn’t even inform his family. In the end, his brothers came forward to perform the last rites. Before his death, Patil spoke to his friend expressing his wish to get back to the force again while throwing up blood on the cold floors of the Sewri Municipal hospital.
In December 2015, Khan was acquitted of all charges in this case due to lack of evidence. The Supreme Court in 2016 admitted a plea by the Maharashtra government that challenged the acquittal of Salman Khan in this hit-and-run case by the Bombay High Court. The court refused to fast-track the case.
His relationship with actress Aishwarya Rai was a well-publicised topic in the Indian media. After their breakup in March 2002, Rai accused him of harassing her. She claimed that Khan had not been able to come to terms with their breakup and was hounding her; her parents lodged a complaint against him. In 2005, news outlets released what was said to be an illicit copy of a mobile phone call recorded in 2001 by the Mumbai police. It appeared to be a call in which he threatened Rai, in an effort to force her to appear at social events held by Mumbai crime figures. The call featured boasts of connections to organised crime and derogatory comments about other actors. However, the alleged tape was tested in the government’s Forensic lab in Chandigarh which concluded that it was fake.
On September 2010, Khan was reported to have claimed during an interview on a Pakistani channel that the 26/11 attacks got a lot of attention because the “elite” were targeted. During the interview, the actor had said, “It was the group of elite people that was targeted this time. Five-star hotels and stuff. So they panicked. Then they got up and spoke about it. My question is why not before?” Attacks have happened in trains and small towns too, but no one talked about it so much. Khan also said that Pakistan was not to be blamed for it and that the Indian security forces had failed. His comments had drawn strong reactions from then Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, Shiv Sena, BJP and other political parties. The comments were also condemned by Ujjwal Nikam, Special Prosecutor in the 26/11 trial. Khan later apologised for his comments. The saga never stopped here, on July 25, 2015, Khan made a number of tweets from his Twitter account in support of the 1993 Bombay bombings accused Yakub Memon. Memon was scheduled to be executed, before which Khan made his tweets. Khan said that Yakub’s brother, Tiger Memon should be hanged instead. He also asked the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif to confirm whether the mob boss is in his country. The tweets sparked protests outside his house where police had to be deployed and he was criticised in the social media and by his father, Salim Khan. Following these incidents, Khan withdrew his tweets and apologised. As soon as this matter settled, eventually in September 2016, he made a statement saying, “They (Pakistani actors) are artists, not terrorists. It’s the government who gives those permits and visas.” He is constantly in the limelight for some or the other reasons.
But still, when it comes to the idol Salman Khan, it doesn’t matter how stupid or idiotic his movies are, all the Salman fans want to see their ‘Sallu Bhai’ dancing, slapping and kicking 100 villains; they love to see Bhai crying and doing all those bizarre stunts. We Indians love to form opinions that fit our convenience. If being drunk is an excuse, if it was just an ‘accident’ and everyone deserves a second chance is an excuse then probably the rapists of Nirbhaya should also have let go off without a sentence. It is the same people who say that it’s the fault of those sleeping on the footpath, people who were so angered at politicians saying girls are responsible for rapes. When they both, at a principle and moral level, are using the same argument, the only difference is that the former fits its convenience and the latter doesn’t.
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