The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe into Salman case

Mumbai, Sept. 30 (PTI): Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal today instituted a high-level probe into the accident case involving filmstar Salman Khan.

Khan had allegedly rammed his car into a Bandra bakery on Saturday morning, killing one person and injuring four others. The actor later surrendered and was subsequently released on bail after furnishing a bond of Rs 950 and a surety.

Bhujbal, who also holds the home portfolio, said joint commissioner (law and order) Javed Ahmed will conduct the probe and submit his report within a week.

The deputy chief minister had convened a high-level meeting of city police officials today to examine the details of the case and the actor being granted bail by the police. Bhujbal, however, ruled out any political pressure during the course of the investigation.

The result of the alcohol test, which the actor had been subjected to after the accident, would be available in a day or two, Bhujbal said. He, however, gave a clean chit to Rajindra Patil, Khan’s bodyguard, who had escorted the filmstar on the day of the accident.

Patil’s first priority was rushing the injured to hospital. Hence, he could not be blamed for failing to pursue the actor after the mishap, Bhujbal added.

Speaking to reporters today after inaugurating the World Free Trade Zone Expo 2002, Bhujbal said: “It was not a case of simple accident, where a person was mowed down while crossing the road but rather a clear case of sheer negligence on part of Salman.”

He also expressed surprise over the fact that Khan, who had surrendered at 11 am, was released on bail just after a few hours.

“However, this perhaps would not have been possible in case of a common man,” the deputy chief minister added.

There was a need to look at the law in this regard, Bhujbal said, hinting at a probable modification of the same. To a query as to how police granted bail to the actor, he said that in such offences, bail could either be obtained from the court or the police could grant bail.

Khan’s assertion that he was not on the driver’s seat when his car rammed into the bakery may not help him with eye-witness’ accounts giving a contrary version, police sources said today.

Police has recorded statements from various sources that contradict the actor’s statement that Patil was driving the vehicle.

One of the victims reportedly told the police that he saw Khan getting down from the driver’s seat. Police have refused to disclose the name of the witness, saying the case was under investigation. Patil himself had told the police that Khan was driving the Toyota Land Cruiser.

However, reacting to Khan’s allegation, Patil later told a section of the media that “he did know driving”.

According to Patil, he was escorting Khan that day along with the actor’s cousin, Kamal, and driver Altaf. When they were returning home after attending a party, Altaf was on the driver’s seat. Khan, however, decided to halt at a five-star hotel to meet someone and returned after 15 minutes. Thereafter, Khan took to the wheels and was driving at 70 km per hour, he said.

According to Patil, the actor looked back to talk to him and lost control of the vehicle. He swerved the vehicle to avoid an electric pole and dashed into the bakery, Patil said.

Khan’s lawyer, Waris Pathan, said the case against the actor would not stand in a court of law. “The allegation that he was driving the vehicle would have to be proved,” he said.

In another move, the police security being provided to Khan after he had complained of extortion threats from the underworld has been withdrawn.

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