Mumbai(dna): "I forgave Salman long back... his going to jail will not bring my father back," said Nurullah Shaikh's son Feroz on Wednesday.
Feroz Shaikh and his mother Begum Jahan
Nurullah had died on the ill-fated night in 2002 when the actor's Land Cruiser had run over him and four others. Feroz, till date, has been trying to come to terms the way the incident completely turned around his life, and that of his mother Begum Jahan.
Feroz, who himself is a big Salman Khan fan, said sending him to jail won't change things much for them. "We just need to lead a good life, we have suffered a lot. I hope that the compensation that is due to my mother is given and she has a better life from hereon," he added.
"He is my favourite actor. Even after the accident, I watched a lot of his films, my favourite being Hum Saath Saath Hai."
Begum Jahan, on the other hand, believes that finally there is some sense of a closure to the whole thing. Dressed in a simple blue and beige salwaar-kameez, she watched the court sealing Khan's fate with tears in her eyes.
Begum, who married Nurullah's friend a year-and-a-half after the incident, recollected the hardship she faced after losing him.
"I hailed from a small village in Tamil Nadu and had come to Mumbai soon after marrying Nurullah. We had a hard life as Nurullah would live at the American Express Bakery and I was at Bharat Nagar with my mother-in-law. Nurullah was too much in love with his work... he would visit me only at weekends," she said.
According to Begum, when she was told about Nurullah's death, she didn't know who Salman Khan was. "The day began as usual... early in the morning Nurullah's friend Farooq, who used to deliver bread to shops after picking it up from the bakery, came and told us what had happened," she said, adding, "Initially, we did not believe him, but I sensed something really bad had happened. So, I took Feroz, who was 13 then, and went to the bakery to see for myself."
Farooq, she said, even told the young Feroz 'tera baap Salman Khan ke gaadi ke neeche aake khatam ho gaya (your father came under Salman Khan's car and died)'.
On reaching the bakery, Begum said the owner Jehangir informed her that Nurullah's body had been taken to Cooper hospital. Jehangir also told her not to go anywhere or speak to anyone, she added.
"However, later, a friend of Nurullah's said to me that I shouldn't listen to anyone and go to the police station. When we went to the police station, we came to know who Salman Khan was."
Recalling how that day changed their whole lives, Begum said, "We had shifted to Santa Cruz by then in a rented house, no one from my family was ready to help. I was told to meet MLA Baba Siddique, I was told he would help us. But when I met him he said he can't do anything."
"I did odd jobs in people's houses... but things went on becoming worse for me and my son. Finally, I married Nurullah's friend who had helped us in bad days," she added.
Begum said she tried to meet Khan and his family but was turned away every time. "After the accident I had gone to meet him at his residence to seek help, but I was told that I am not allowed to meet him and I should not come back."
Both Begum and Feroz are struggling, but what they want is for Khan to realise and "humbly accept" his mistake. "I have seen my mother suffer so much, I can understand what Salman's old parents must be going through; at the end of the day he too is somebody's child," said Feroz.
"He didn't do it deliberately, it was a mistake. Sending him to jail won't solve our problems. We just need help from his side so that we can improve our life."
Begum, however, believes that the imprisonment will act as a deterrent to others and to Khan himself. "I think that five years in jail is enough as he will realise his mistake and won't repeat it," she said. "I don't know who was driving the car that night, but when suddenly a driver comes up and takes the blame it shows that they are hiding something."
The mother and son said they never expected to see such a judgment, adding that in India the poor never get justice. They said all these years they had no clue what was happening in the case as no one helped them track it. "Family members, friends, and even the police, no one helped us in finding out what was happening in the case. Finally, from some news channel, we found out everything."