Ravindra Patil, the prime-witness in 2002 hit and run case, whose testimony played a decisive role in conviction of Superstar Salman Khan died a loner in a govt hospital under pathetic condition in 2007.
The much awaited verdict came after twelve years of court hearings and legal hold-up with convoluted twists and turns like typical bollywood masala flick where key witnesses turned hostile and the prime witness lost his life.
Here we are presenting heart wrenching tale of police constable-turned-commando Ravindra Patil who refused to change his statement in 2002 Salman Khan Hit-and-run case.
Patil, who hailed from Maharashtra's Satara district, joined the Mumbai Police as a constable and was trained as a commando to join the Special Operations Squad (SOS) which has a primary duty of guarding VIPs. In, 2002, Patil was assigned duty as Salman's bodyguard, little did he know that it would seal his fate
In early 2002, following a police complaint by Salman Khan about the actor getting threatening calls from the underworld. The police concluded that there was a threat to the actor's life. So they assigned the then 24-year-old constable Ravindra Patil as Salman's unarmed bodyguard, to protect him everywhere. Little did he know that it would seal his fate and continue to haunt Salman for the rest of his life.
On the fateful night, Patil was with the actor when the accident took place. It was in fact Patil who had filed the first information report.
In his statement, Patil had told the court, “On September 28, 2002, I was attached to the protection branch. I was deputed as Salman Khan's bodyguard and was to remain with him.”
“They came out at 2.15am. When the accused sat behind the wheel, I asked him whether he would be driving the car. He ignored me. The accused was driving the car at a speed of 90-100km/hour. Before reaching the Hill
Road junction, I told the accused to slow down as a right turn was coming up. He ignored me again. The accused lost control of the car while taking a turn and drove right on to the footpath.”
Patil had told the court that the car crashed into American Express bakery and broke its shutter. “There was a lot of shouting and people had gathered around us. I showed my identity car and told the crowd I was a policeman, which pacified them. The accused and Kamaal ran away from the spot. I went to the car to check and saw that one person was seriously injured. There were four others who were stuck under the car.”
Patil said he was the one who called the police control room and then lodged a complaint with the Bandra police.
“The incident took place because the car was in speed and the accused, in a drunken state, could not control the car while taking the turn,” he had said
During the trial, it was clear to everyone, the only solid evidence that the police had, was Patil's eye-witness account. There were a total of 27 witnesses in the case, but Patil was the prime witness who could turn the case around.
Being junior officer (constable) in the powerful Mumbai Police went against Patil, because he was also systematically isolated by his own department. He started abstaining from duty and would spend time away from Mumbai.
In 2006, when it was Patil's turn to give his testimony in the court, he disappeared. Those close to him said that since he was isolated he did not have the courage to stand in the court.
They also said, his own Mumbai Police force did not stood by him when they should have ensured that being a prime witness and a policeman he should be protected. But, none of that happened and Patil continued to abstain from court.
In fact, when he disappeared, a missing complaint was also filed by his brother. Rumours were afloat with news of Patil being pressurised to stay away from the trial.
Police informed the court that even they were unaware of Patil's whereabouts.
Based on this information, the court issued a warrant against Patil and ordered the police to arrest him. Mumbai Police dealt a double whammy to Patil by dismissing him from service on the charges of going on leave without permission.
When Patil was finally found in a hotel in Mahabaleshwar, his very own department promptly arrested him for his failure to appear for five consecutive court dates and sent him to jail.
No one paid any heed to the fact why Patil was missing and did not appear in the court. The same person who was so forthcoming and himself lodged an FIR against Salman Khan. Here again, Patil may have never imagined that he would be arrested in the very case in which he was a complainant and had himself registered an FIR.
Ironically, when Patil finally deposed in the case in March 2006, he was still in jail. It can only be imagined what must have gone through a policeman who is a trained commando but ended up in a dingy cell of Arthur Road jail in a case in which he is a prime witness.
After being released from jail, Patil again went missing. No one, including his family, knew about his whereabouts. There are reports that he had gone to his mother's place in Dhule district. In the interim period, he was dismissed from the police department. This meant that his salary was stopped and he was left without any job. He even reportedly got divorced from his wife after being released from jail. Patil later even claimed that his family had abandoned him.
In September 2007, months after he had gone missing, Patil was discovered in the Sewri TB hospital. Such was his physical condition that at first no one recognised him nor did anyone know that he was the prime witness in the Salman Khan hit-and-run case. He was reduced to a pile of bones and weighed a mere 30 kg. He was battling drug resisting TB with little hope of survival.
Doctors said that due to the huge pressure that Patil had undergone in five years, his body was unable to cope up with stress any further and he had developed a strain of TB which had turned fatal. He succumbed to the disease on October 4, 2007.