MUMBAI — Bollywood actor Salman Khan who was today convicted in a 13-year-old hit and run case in Mumbai, looked dazed and shell-shocked inside the courtroom, but did not break down as his verdict was pronounced by the judge, according to an eyewitness account.
Khan was sentenced to five years in jail in the case.
Megha Prasad, the Mumbai Bureau Chief of Times Now, who was inside the court room, described on TV how Khan showed no discernible reaction when sessions court Judge DW Deshpande “leaned towards him” and told him that it was Khan who was behind the wheels of the car that crushed a pavement dweller on the fateful night.
Deshpande also stated that Khan was under the influence of alcohol and did not have a driving license.
Prasad said Khan looked “sleepy, tired and initially disconnected from what was happening around him” in the sensational case that has seen many twists and turns in the last decade.
Khan’s family, she said, was scattered all over the courtroom, with his brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri sitting towards the back. His brother Sohail Khan left the court soon after the verdict as Khan’s mother had fallen ill, she said.
“There was a lot of drama,” Prasad said.
“He showed no reaction even when the judge leaned towards him and softly told him that he was driving the car, but you could see that Salman was irritated when his lawyers submitted before the court that he was ill with an ear infection and therefore should not be sent to jail,” Prasad said. "The lawyers were probably not instructed by Salman to say that."
“The judge did not use the word ‘convicted’,” Prasad said.
Alvira, Khan’s sister, seemed tense and at one point, Khan gestured towards her indicating perhaps that he wanted to sit, said Prasad. Khan was called to the witness stand and had been standing through the entire duration of the proceeding.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered outside Khan’s apartment in Mumbai and film stars, including Khan's former girlfriend Sangeeta Bijlani, were seen entering the building to extend support to his family.
On September 28, 2002, Nurullah Mehboob Sharif, a pavement dweller, lost his life after being run over by Khan's Toyota Land Cruiser. Additional sessions judge DW Deshpande said that it was "not probable" that the car was being driven by Ashok Singh, his driver, who recently took responsibility for the accident.