"Being human is being framed" was the first status on my Facebook updates after Salman Khan's five year jail sentence was announced. This was followed by a constant barrage of news on the actor's conviction in the hit-and-run case from an era ago. Most of the comments and status updates I saw were professing an undying love for the actor and how he was wrongly being accused and convicted of a crime he did not commit. There was much jubilation when the sentence was suspended.
From the facts of the case, Salman was convicted for driving while under the influence and running over some people sleeping on a footpath in Bandra. One person died and others were seriously injured. It seems pretty black and white to me: Salman Khan committed a crime. There is no other way to see it. He is not being framed; neither is he being targeted for being such a noble soul. Had anyone else committed the crime, we would not bat an eyelid before declaring them guilty. But this is different.
This is Salman Khan so of course, we introduce a million other arguments to grey the picture and convolute our view -- he is a good person and donates to an organisation that does "a lot of good work", he has a bazillion fans, he shouldn't be punished more than his due because he is an actor, the BMC is to blame, blah, blah, blah. Bollywood has also come together like a good band of brothers and sisters vowing to stand by Salman, with some claiming how his generosity and unselfishness surpasses all crimes.
"If you really are what you portray yourself to be, stand up and take responsibility for your actions. Otherwise, you are nothing but a coward."
To this I say: smoke and mirrors. This is not Salman's first run in with the law. Like most people, whatever I know of him comes from the news. I have no way to judge his benevolence. While reports of his good nature may be true, does that make his involvement in the hit-and-run case any less severe? We are talking about a person's life here. It does not matter what Salman Khan does outside of this case -- his erratic behaviour killed another human being. The reasons for his actions do not hold any ground here. He had a driver with him but he chose to drink and drive. That to me shows his feeling of invincibility and a blatant disregard for the law. And we have witnessed this disregard from him numerous times -- be it driving drunk or killing protected wildlife or harassing his ex-girlfriend in multiple ways. His pattern of behaviour consistently indicates an egotistical man who will do as he pleases because he is thinks he is above the law.
Being human is definitely not about that.
We have repeatedly chosen to ignore all his past transgressions and idolise him. We have held him in high regard, although time and again he has proven that he does not deserve it. His actions, while some of them might be noteworthy and exemplary, on the whole do not paint a picture of a model citizen. And now the High Court has chosen to disregard a man's death and release the actor.
Tell me, why are people like Salman not being punished, whereas, an innocent man with nowhere else to sleep but the footpath paid with his life and another one with his leg?
I was happy when Salman was sentenced to prison. The sentence served as vindication for all the crimes he has committed. I do not care how philanthropic he is. Regardless of what you do otherwise and who you are, if your actions take another person's life you should be held guilty and serve your sentence.
I had very little respect for you, Salman Khan, but after this ordeal I have nothing left either for you or for the justice system in our country. If you really are what you portray yourself to be, stand up and take responsibility for your actions. Otherwise, you are nothing but a coward.