It's very easy to hate Salman. Even within the industry, the 37-year-old compulsive chest-barer isn't too popular. Former girlfriend Somy Ali had to suffer the indignity of having a drink poured over her head at a restaurant. His most recent ex, actress Aishwarya Rai, has even gone public about his abusive behaviour saying, "There have been occasions when Salman got physical with me, luckily without leaving any marks." In the past, Salman has even tried to barge into her apartment, rammed into her car on a film set and abused her co-stars. Those at the receiving end of his brand of humiliation find him obnoxious and sadistic. Says Indu Mirani, associate editor at Box Office, "He seems to enjoy making people feel small. Especially those who can't fight back. He would keep staring in my direction and make obscene gestures on the sets."
With such a reputation, it isn't surprising that many want Salman brought to book. The news that the police suspects the actor of not have a driving licence has only helped the case. The cry for justice has been overwhelming. So too the demand that police laxity in the case be probed. "The laxity of the police in this case is nothing short of complicity with the accused. They have been partisan," fumes human rights activist P.A. Sebastian of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights. The inexplicable delay in arresting Salman and the decision to book him under a bailable law, no doubt, worked in his favour. Within hours of his arrest, Salman was a free man again.