There are two versions about Salman Khan’s nature. He’s the lion-hearted superstar humanitarian (as he calls himself on Twitter). He is the brash and cocky ‘bhai’ who doesn’t mind working his clout or fists to get what he wants. Recently, and not for the first time, the latter avatar of the actor came to the fore. He bullied a blogger into pulling down a blog post that was not to his liking.
The blog in question, Bollywoodjournalist.com, is written by an entertainment journalist, Soumyadipta Banerjee, from Mumbai. In one post, he wrote about the mysterious case of Ravindra Patil, the police constable who was assigned as a bodyguard to Khan and was in the Land Cruiser that ran over four homeless people in Bandra. In his statement to the police, Patil claimed that Khan was behind the wheel and was drunk. And that the actor had not slowed down despite Patil’s advice. This is a crucial detail. A sessions court judge relied on this to rule that the actor should be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304. This could mean a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.
According to news reports, Patil was under pressure to change his statement. He went missing and was eventually discharged from the police force. He was located many months later, suffering from tuberculosis, and died in 2007.
In the blog post, Banerjee hinted that Patil was pressured by Salman’s well-wishers in the police and film fraternity.
Salman wasn’t happy.
He sent Banerjee a legal notice, threatening action if the posts were not taken off. Banerjee has not spoken to the media. On 8 July, he wrote on his blog, ‘The last two days have been really excruciating for me. I have received a communication from Mr Salman Khan. There I have been instructed to remove two blog posts that I have written about him. Those articles have been removed from this blog. Here’s a public apology to Mr Salman Khan for writing two blog posts that he didn’t consider appropriate.’
Many are aghast at the manner in which the actor reacted. Well-known film journalist Rauf Ahmed says infotech laws are often misused to target those whose views are not convenient to people. “Salman had no right to threaten the blogger with a notice. He may not be able to take on a newspaper or a magazine for what they write. But a blogger is an easy target.”