Mumbai: Ravindra Patil was once superstar Salman Khan’s side-kick, a young police officer assigned to protect Bollywood’s heavy-weight.
But fate took a cruel turn after the actor’s infamous 2002 hit-and-run case.
Actor Salman Khan’s conviction is perhaps a posthumous vindication for Ravindra Patil, the former’s bodyguard who consistently maintained until his death that it was Khan behind the wheel that night.
The Mumbai sessions court on Wednesday convicted the actor of killing one person and injuring four others in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
Patil was a Mumbai police constable who had been assigned as Khan’s bodyguard and was sitting beside the actor when he ran over five sleeping pedestrians, one of whom succumbed to his injuries.
The landmark judgment is not just a victory for the victims, but also in a way for Patil, who many feel had been let down by the judiciary and the state.
It was Patil who lodged an FIR (first information report) against Khan, and in his statement to the earlier court which heard the case, said he had warned the actor to drive slowly since he was in an inebriated condition.
However, Khan did not heed the warning, Patil had said.
Although, Patil was the one to file the case against Khan he mysteriously went missing in 2006.
It has been reported that Patil was under tremendous pressure to change his statement.
He had gone into hiding in order to avoid Khan’s lawyers and also alleged harassment from within the police force.
But Patil did not change his statement till the last day.
Ironically, Patil was arrested in 2006 for failing to appear as a witness and sent to prison.
In November that year he was sacked from the police force.
A witness was suddenly at the receiving end of it all. Life was dealing this grand witness blows after blows while Salman Khan delivered hits after hits at the box office.
Less than a year later, in August 2007, Patil was found on the streets and admitted to hospital where he died in October.
He had been suffering from tuberculosis for two years, and his family had abandoned him.
Indian tabloid Mid-Day reported that Patil had told a friend two days before his death that he was saddened by the treatment he had been subjected to.
“I stood by my statement till the end, but my department did not stand by me. I want my job back, I want to survive. I want to meet the police commissioner once.”
As the bodyguard battled for life the actor and police department choose to look the other way.