Salman Khan's fans gather outside star's Mumbai home; say they're praying for his return

Suryasarathi Bhattacharya

Apr 05, 2018 19:27:10 IST

Even as their idol was in faraway Jodhpur, being sentenced by the court to five years in prison after being held guilty in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case, Salman Khan's fans kept a steady vigil at his home in Mumbai — Galaxy Apartments in the suburb of Bandra.

Salman had been pronounced guilty by the Jodhpur court before noon on Thursday, 5 April 2018. A little after 2.30 pm, the news had filtered through that his sentence had been fixed at five years' jail time, and a Rs 10,000 penalty. Salman was immediately taken into custody and thereafter, underwent a medical examination. As his lawyers prepared to present their appeal before the Rajasthan High Court (before it shut for the day at 5 pm), the consensus seemed to be that Salman would have to spend at least a night at the Jodhpur Central Prison.

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Even the prospect of the superstar not returning home that night didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the gathered fans any. One group yelled out "Salman, we love you". Whether that was for the benefit of the waiting cameras (there were quite a few members of the press corps on location as well) or genuine emotion — who could tell?

There was an odd sense of expectation — a feeling that persisted even when it became evident that nothing noteworthy was going to happen. Salman was most definitely not going to make a sudden appearance at the gates of Galaxy. "The TV channels' vans have been here since 7 in the morning," said a policeman who was on duty, regulating the crowd. "Nobody's going to say or do anything. But still..." he said, seemingly unable to find a reason for it all.

Seated on his specially modified bicycle in the shade of a tree was Mohammed Afzal Khan, 35. Khan, an aspiring writer and Salman fan, certainly wasn't among those who believed the actor was innocent of any wrongdoing. However, he felt that the court should have been more lenient towards Salman in view of his philanthropic efforts. "If the court has decided on something, it will definitely be based on some facts," Khan told us. "But I know Salman is a good human being. Punishing him is fine, but the sentence should not be one of such severity, especially after so many years. He does good (things) for others, helps people. To err is human, isn't it? He must be forgiven. That's what I pray to the Almighty."

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At this time, there was a general commotion among the crowd. They'd seen Salman's brothers Arbaaz and Sohail enter Galaxy Apartments. Meanwhile, a middle-aged fan held court amid a circle of news cameras. "It's all politics," the man said, of why Salman had been sentenced. His fans' only hope was that "he would be out on Friday, after namaaz".

Riding his autorickshaw constantly in the vicinity was another fan, who said he'd been so saddened by the news of Salman's conviction that he hadn't left the vicinity of Galaxy Apartments. "I'll feel better if I see him once when he returns," the man said.

Chand Mahammad, 45, another rickshaw driver in the area, reported that Salim Khan had instructed them to take only Rs 10 from the underprivileged people who would ask to be brought to Galaxy hoping for help from Salman.

Among those maintaining a vigil outside Salman's home was Sheikh Alimuddin. Alimuddin hails from Hingoli district and had rushed to the Mumbai airport when Salman returned from his Race 3 shoot at Abu Dhabi as he felt it might be a while since he'd have a chance to see his idol again. Alimuddin claimed that Salman (through his foundation) had helped his uncle, a cancer patient. He also questioned why Salman had received a five-year prison term when those who had perpetrated far worse crimes were enjoying freedom on the force of their political power.

Darshan Jain, 28, a Borivali resident, had come armed with his Salman scrapbook. Carefully collected within was Indian currency of varying denominations; the series on all the notes reflected either 271265 (Salman's ate of birth: 27 December 1965) or his car registration number: 272727. This is a small part of Jain's collection, which has been displayed at the Bandra restaurant Bhaijaan's (named after Salman of course).

As Jain spoke to us how he hoped Salman's legal troubles would end soon, another murmur went through the crowd: Malaika and Amrita Arora had been spotted leaving the Galaxy Apartment compound. The crowd pressed forward, hoping perhaps to be let in. But the guards, implacable, stood firm. The doors to Salman Khan's home stayed shut.

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2018 16:12:46 IST