Salman and Sohail defend driver, blame the rain
Mumbai: In yet another celebrity-related hit-and-run case, 45-year-old Dhananjay Pimple – the driver of Bollywood actor, director and producer Sohail Khan – surrendered to the Bandra police officials an hour after he knocked down a 70-year-old lady near St Andrews Church on B J Road, Bandra (West) at 10.30 pm on Sunday. (Read: Arbaaz Khan’s car crushes woman to death in Mumbai; driver gets bail)
Pimple was booked under Sections 279 (rash and negligent driving) and 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC and Section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act. He was produced in the Bandra Court yesterday afternoon and was released on a bail of Rs. 10,000.
Pimple, however, found support in both Sohail and Salman Khan, who defended him by saying that the accident must have happened because of the rain, due of which he didn’t realise he had hit someone.
Rubbishing the Khan brothers’ statement, locals and eyewitnesses said that it wasn’t raining at the time of the accident and that it was impossible for the driver not to realise that he had knocked down a person.
In Pimple’s defence, the Khan brothers said, “No one from the family was in the car, but we admit that the car belongs to us. There is a possibility that because of the rain, the old lady must have had a plastic sheet or something else to protect her, due to which the driver wasn’t able to spot her.” When questioned why the driver fled the spot instead of rushing the victim to the hospital, they said, “He didn’t realise that he had hit a person.”
Their father, Salim, said, “Instead of tracing whereabouts of the poor woman and her family, the focus is more on our family, to know who was inside the car.”
According to eyewitnesses Rakesh Shukla and Yash Shah, who rushed the victim to the Bhabha Hospital, the old lady died due to negligence of the police and the hospital authorities. They said that nearly 40 minutes were wasted in transporting the victim to the hospital, as the patrolling officer, stating that it was a police case, refused to respond to their pleas of shifting her to the nearest medical facility. They also said that the procedural delay in shifting her to a bigger medical facility by the hospital staff proved fatal for the old lady.
DCP (Zone IX) Pratap Dighavkar said that the incident occurred on B J Road at 10.30 pm on Sunday. He said that Pimple, who was driving a Lexus SUV, left for Sohail’s house from Salman’s residence. “After driving for about 100 feet, it struck Pimple that he had left behind his umbrella and tiffin box at Salman’s residence. Without prior warning – honking or using indicators – the drive took a sharp U-turn and rammed the SUV into Chandrabala, who was dragged for at least 10 feet, before the driver halted the vehicle. Once the victim was out of the car’s way, Pimple fled the spot, fearing arrest,” Dighavkar said. He added that the SUV belonged to Sohail and Salman’s brother Arbaaz and that the former had borrowed it.
Asked to respond to the eyewitnesses’ claims about the delay caused by the patrolling officer, Dighavkar said, “I will investigate the matter.”
He added that investigation would be carried out to ascertain whether anyone else was in the car at the time of the accident.
We’ll perform final rites: Eyewitnesses
The police officials said that since the homeless victim lived on the roadside, they would wait for the next three days for any of her relatives to come forward and claim the body.
However, Shukla and Shah have said that if no one comes forward, they would perform the final rites. The duo was in the police station till the wee hours of yesterday morning.