People came from far-flung corners the nation for the Salman Khan verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case. While some were loyal fans who wanted to show solidarity or just get a glimpse of the actor, others came to witness what they hoped would be the delivery of a just verdict. HT spoke to three such fans, as they waited outside court on Wednesday.
Deepak Kumar, Punjab
Deepak Kumar, a 37-year-old who hails from a small town in Punjab called Sirhind, had travelled all the way to Mumbai to see the actor convicted. As he was learnt about the judgment, he said, “Ten years should have been the minimum punishment.”
Sporting a beard and waiting outside the court as the constable asked him to stay away from the main entrance of the court, Kumar said, “Law is equal for everyone and the conviction proves the judiciary does not differentiate between the rich and the poor. I came to Mumbai specially to witness the verdict. He crushed innocent people under his vehicle, what else does he expect the verdict to be?” said Kumar. Kumar added the case had pulled him to Mumbai, as he wanted to experience the verdict as it unfolded.
Shaan Ghosh, a social worker
Shaan Ghosh, a social worker who bears an uncanny resemblance to Khan, came all the way from Nagpur to witness the verdict. Waiting since morning, Ghosh said he had only one wish from the judiciary on Wednesday: that Khan be acquitted. “I came from Nagpur to support bhai. He is not just a great actor, but an even better person. He has inspired not just me, but been the role model for a lot of other youngsters,” said Ghosh.
“Bhai has always been generous and helped scores of people in various ways. I was inspired by him and started my own organisation, which I named the Being Salman foundation. We are inspired by him. My organisation and I try to follow his example and help out as many people as we can. Just because I look like Salman, more and more people have started joining us,” said Ghosh. As the verdict was going to be pronounced, Ghosh said, “Fans mein bohot bechaini hai (fans are getting restless).”
Palash Ghatak, a student
Palash Ghatak, a 23-year-old student, hails from Bonga, a district on the border of India-Bangladesh. He had come to Mumbai to see his favourite actor get acquitted, but was heartbroken when he learnt about Khan’s conviction. I came to the city two weeks ago. I started making arrangements as soon as the date of judgment was announced. Ghatak, whose legs were amputated, was keeping a check on all the gates to get a glance of Khan. “I was waiting outside his residence yesterday when I got to see him,” Ghatak said.
“Everyone makes mistakes and Khan has been doing a lot of charity work from years. He should be given a chance. Forgiveness is the biggest virtue. I think there should have been some leniency from the judiciary. Khan is a changed man now. He should have been given a chance to get out of what he did in his past,” said Ghatak.
As Ghatak tried to enter the court premises, a constable stopped him, but he managed to make it inside the court premises. “I wanted him to get acquitted, god knows what will happen now,” added Ghatak.