‘He ruined my life but he did not help me with a single paisa. I wonder what kind of charity he does when he does not pay the very people who are the victims of his bad deeds. All he did was to pay the compensation the court ordered him to pay me,’ Abdullah Rauf Sheikh tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.
Gareebi kya cheez hai, yeh sirf gareeb jaanta hai; ameer kya jaaney garibi kya cheez hai,” says Abdullah Rauf Sheikh, a bakery worker and one of the four persons injured in the actor Salman Khan hit and run case of September 28, 2002.
A day after Salman Khan was sentenced to five years imprisonment for the hit-and-run, Abdullah is hurt about the statement made by singer Abhijeet, that if you sleep on pavement like dogs, you will die like dogs.
“How can I go and sleep on a railway platform for free? Who will allow me to sleep on a railway platform? If every poor man like me starts sleeping on railway platforms there will be no place to walk for commuters on any of the railway platforms in Mumbai,” said Abdullah.
On that fateful night, five workers of A-1 Bakery, including Abdullah, were sleeping on the pavement outside American Express Bakery nearby, when Salman Khan plowed his SUV into them in the wee hours, driving under the influence.
While Nurullah Sharif was killed in the accident, Abdullah, Muslim Shaikh, Munnu Khan and Mohammed Kalim were injured.
Says Abdullah, “We don’t enjoy sleeping on pavements but we had no other option. We all were working at A-1 Bakery at that time but as the bakery was too small there was no place for us to sleep inside.”
Thirteen years later, Salman Khan’s sentence matters little to Abdullah as it has no relevance to his life, he says.
“Till this day I cannot walk properly. I saw Salman Khan at the time of the accident but since I was crushed under the car I did not see him coming out of the car. I was in pain, but I recall very well that he was in the car,” added Abdullah.
His main grouse is that he did not get any help from Salman Khan in spite of being written about for his generosity everywhere.
“He ruined my life but he did not help me with a single paisa. I wonder what kind of charity he does when he does not pay the very people who are the victims of his bad deeds. All he did was to pay the compensation the court ordered him to pay me,” says Abdullah.
He continues, “I was paid Rs 3 lakh by Salman Khan on the orders of the court. From that, too, my lawyer took away Rs 1.2 lakh as fees. And sadly, I got this money in 2007, five years after the accident.
“I am crippled for the rest my life, and it is all thanks to Salman Khan,” he adds.
Today, he works for another outlet, Stable Bakery, also in Bandra, but he is no longer called Abdullah.
“Everyone here calls him as Salman,” says Naeem Ansari, owner of Stable Bakery. “In fact, when reporters came here to look for Abdullah after the court verdict we were all confused because none of us knew him as Abdullah, everyone calls him Salman.”
“The only thing Salman Khan has given Abdullah is his new name. He has been re-born with the new name, as Salman,” jokes Ansari.
Asked if he has ever slept on a footpath post the hit-and-run, Abdullah says, “Never. After that accident I don’t dare sleep on footpaths.”
His room next to the bakery is tiny, and is stewing in the summer heat. “Even if it boils in the night I don’t mind, I sleep well here. On the footpath, I will be sleepless as the nightmare of the accident still haunts me.”
Images: Abdullah Rauf Sheikh is known as 'Salman' at the new bakery he works in.