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Drinks yes, drunk not sure: Salman witness

- Bar manager says group ordered alcohol, unsure if the actor had it
Salman Khan

Mumbai, June 23: The manager of the bar Salman Khan visited just before his 2002 hit-and-run accident identified him in court today, but said he was “not sure” if the actor had alcohol.

Another witness who testified on the crash scene said he had seen the actor get off the “front side” of the SUV but it was not clear from his account whether the actor had been at the wheel.

Rizwan Khan, who was the manager of Rain Bar in Juhu that Salman visited with brother Sohail and friends, said: “Salman’s group ordered drinks and snacks but I am not sure whether the actor had consumed the alcohol himself. I saw Salman with a glass of colourless liquid which looked like water but I am not sure if it was alcohol.”

Rizwan said he remembered having escorted Salman and the others to the gates when they were leaving the bar between 1.15am and 1.30 am on September 28, 2002, a little before the accident in Bandra in which one sleeping pavement dweller died and four were injured.

“But Salman was not smelling of alcohol and he was walking normally,” Rizwan said during the examination by public prosecutor Jagannath Kenjralkar whose case is that the actor had taken drinks and was under the influence of liquor at the time of the accident. The victims were employees of a bakery, American Bakery.

Salman was present in court today, dressed in denims and a grey shirt, along with sister Alvira. He faces up to 10 years in jail on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against an earlier case of causing death by negligence in which the maximum term is two years. A magistrate had early this year ordered retrial under the graver charges after examining 17 witnesses.

In his testimony today, Rizwan confirmed some hotel bills shown by the prosecution as those of the outlet.

Rizwan said Salman’s group had ordered chicken dishes and alcohol but added during cross-examination by Salman’s counsel Shrikant Shivade that it was not possible to be certain in the dimly lit bar about who among the group actually consumed the drinks.

The waiter had earlier told the court that he had served Bacardi white rum and cocktails, along with some snacks, but said it was not possible for him to say with certainty whether the actor had consumed the alcohol.

Ramashray Pandey, the crash-spot witness who testified today, said he had seen Salman get off the “front seat” of his Toyota Land Cruiser a few minutes after the accident.

“I saw Salman get down. There was no one else seated on the front side of the car after he got down. Policeman Ravindra Patil (Salman’s then bodyguard who died a few years ago) was standing outside before Salman got off,” Pandey, the owner of a dairy near the spot, said.

Pandey said the SUV’s left front door — meant for travellers — was jammed. “I saw only one man coming out from the front side of the car and he was Salman. There was no one else sitting on the front side of the car after Salman moved out from car,” Pandey said.

The witness added that locals had later pulled the SUV away from the spot but Salman was not present when this was being done.

Nine witnesses have been examined by the court so far. The hearings will continue tomorrow.