On Wednesday, the Bollywood actor Salman Khan was sentenced to five years in prison because he was declared guilty in the death of a homeless person in a long running hit-and-run case. The 49-year-old Mr. Khan is one of the biggest movie stars in India and had been drunk driving on a September night back in 2002 along a street in Mumbai when he ran over five homeless men who had been sleeping on a footpath and then fled, according to the prosecution. Four of the victims suffered from injuries, but one of them died. The judgment was delivered by a Mumbai court on Wednesday.
It declared that Mr. Khan was guilty of culpable homicide along with a number of charges under the Motor Vehicles Act, as per a lawyer of the prosecution. It was reported by the Indian news media that the actor had been granted bail for two days and the new services said that he would be seeking a longer bail this week. This particular case has come to symbolize what most people think is a culture of impunity for powerful people and celebrities and this decision was hailed by some people as a victory of the common people over the elite and wealthy.
A former senior officer, Arvind Inamdar, said that it seemed that the truth had finally prevailed in this case. He said that the status of every man should be treated the same and this was also applicable to celebrities. There has been a lot of buzz about this case not only because it involves one of the most famous actors in India, but because of the delays that are quite common in the clogged Indian courts. A prominent lawyer and a member of the Parliament, Majeed Memon, questioned in an interview as to why dealing with criminal trials was taking so long. He said that delayed justice was just denied justice.
Nevertheless, this isn’t the first case of a Bollywood actor being convicted of a crime as a sentence is being served by another actor from a famous film family, Sanjay Dutt, as he was found guilty of possessing arms that were provided to him by individuals who were convicted in the Mumbai bombings of 1993. This isn’t also the first criminal case for Mr. Khan either. He is also faced with trial in the shooting of antelopes also called blackbucks in the desert state of Rajasthan in 1998. The actor has maintained his innocence and the case is ongoing.
The Bollywood star had also defended himself in the hit-and-run case saying that his driver had been behind the wheel instead of him and he wasn’t drunk. After the announcement of the sentencing, Mr. Khan’s friends in Bollywood reacted with solidarity on Twitter as they called him a good man, one of the ‘finest people’ and also the nicest person in the business. However, there were also some people who blamed the victims like Abhijeet Bhattacharya, but he eventually apologized for his comments.