Mumbai The car that was involved in the accidental death of a woman in suburban Bandra on Sunday night was registered in the name of superstar Salman Khan's actor brother Arbaaz and was being driven by the driver of his younger sibling Sohail. But it was Salman who came to the rescue of the family caught in the fresh controversy.
Salman defended driver Dhananjay Pimple (44), who was taking a U-turn at the B J Road Junction at 10:30 PM on Sunday night when the victim, Chandana Bala came under the wheels. He said it was a human error exacerbated by bad visibility during the night's torrential downpour.
The Khans are not new to controversy and Salman himself was taken into custody in 2002 on suspicion of culpable homicide after his car ran over four bakery workers sleeping on a pavement, killing one and injuring four. Both Salman and Sohail on Monday warned taxi drivers who regularly park their vehicles near sidewalks to exercise more caution as most of the city's homeless people sleep on the pavements.
"The accident happened by mistake. I spoke to my driver and he said when he was driving, he saw something like a black polythene bag on the road, but it was the lady who was completely in black. I would request everyone not to sleep on the road," he said.
Sohail clarified later to television channels that he was not justifying the action of the driver.
Neither Sohail nor Arbaaz was present in the vehicle on Sunday when the incident happened, police said. Pimple had run away from the spot and surrendered before Bandra police station which placed him under arrest and produced him today before a court here which granted him bail on surety of Rs 10,000. The offence is bailable and hence he got bail, police said adding that he was booked for offences under 304 A IPC (causing death by negligence), 279 IPC (rash driving) and 134 A of Motor Vehicles Act (abdicating responsibility to take victim to hospital).
Sohail said the car was returning from his father Salim Khan's house and the driver lost control during a blind turn. He would do everything in his power to give her a decent burial. But Salman said the Khan family would not pay compensation to the family that had disowned the homeless victim.
Salman, far more secure in his success and super stardom post a string of massive box office successes handled the crisis much better than the 2002 negligent driving case and subsequent incarceration. He wore a skull cap to jail and was reticent about facing a media inquisition.
In 1998 Salman came under a similar scrutiny for poaching and possessing fire arms in a wildlife sanctuary, offences carrying a sentence of seven years imprisonment. A lot has changed since then and Salman appeared both confident and more willing to accept the responsibility for the unfortunate incident while maintaining a united family front in front of the media.