Then there are the hardcore criminals – read industrialists, government employees, politicians and the like; self-proclaimed dons; paid assassins; etc – who roam freely in the country. I am not sure if imprisoning them is exactly the answer to the problem. But then again, their roaming the country as free citizens is definitely not a solution. And how do they get away with it? By bribing, of course! (On an aside, Gabbar Is Back is a movie worth watching).
Talking of movies, do you remember Rajesh Khanna’s famous film Dushman (1972)? He plays a lorry driver who kills the earning member of a poor family when he drives his lorry in a drunken stupor. When he’s taken to court, the dead man’s father (I think) asks the judge of what use will it be if the killer is sentenced to prison for some years? Will that help the dead man’s family survive? That’s when the judge comes up with a landmark judgement. That the murderer (Rajesh Khanna) should earn money and take care of the deceased’s family for the number of years he was supposed to have been imprisoned. Over the next few years, a lot of healing happens between the family and the lorry driver until they finally forgive him. Now, that is what I would call a great solution to a bad situation.
Now, getting to our Sallu Bhai, I don’t think there is a doubt in anyone’s mind that he was the one who drove the car and killed those people. That he drove the car after drinking was “wrong”. That he ran the car over people and killed them was a grave mistake, but still a mistake. It’s definitely not something that he set out to do deliberately. While the case has been going on, Salman Khan has turned around a lot. There is his Being Human Foundation and a number of other acts of philanthropy that make life easier for a lot of people. Some might say that a few good acts do not compensate for one bad act. But why not? I don’t think the man would have been very comfortable with his conscience after the death of all those people. He has definitely done a number of good deeds to set that right in his own way. Yes, those will not bring those people back to life. Then again, Salman Khan languishing in jail isn’t going to bring them back either.
Does it make sense to put the actor behind bars? It’s not as if he’s a hardened criminal. There are many of those running around free and our judicial system seems to be doing nothing about those people. While, if Salman Khan is free, the film industry stands to make a lot of money, in turn helping the lives of many of those who are dependent on Bollywood. And there are those families who have received a lot of financial help from the Bollywood star. They stand to benefit too. And I am sure there will be more such people whose lives he will make better with his monetary backing.
Hence I, for one, vote that our society will gain more with Salman Khan continuing with his regular life than his going to prison for 5-10 years. Any of you willing to join me?