Edited by: Alert India Desk, Jaipur [ Published on: April, 5 2018 16:10[IST ]
Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu & Neelam Kothari- were also accused but acquitted for lack of evidence.
Jaipur: Bollywood Super Star Salman Khan was convicted and sentenced to five years regorious imprisonment on Thursday by the court Judicial Magistrate First Class in Jodhpur for killing endangered wildlife nearly two decades ago.
In 1998, while filming for Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman Khan along with his co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam were charged with poaching blackbucks near Kankani village in Jodhpur. Blackbucks or the Indian antelope is a kind of endangered species that’s protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
According to reports, Salman Khan and his co-stars went for an alleged hunting session during the shooting of the film and killed two blackbucks. The Bishnoi community, angered by this occurrence filed a complaint against the stars. Khan was also charged for keeping an arm under an expired arms licence but was later acquitted by a trial court.
Salman Khan had four cases against him, related to the poaching incident. Today’s case was the last of the lot.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri, while pronouncing the verdict in the case that had been under way for 20 years, called the Salman Khan a ‘habitual offender’. Judge Khatri ruled that hence the actor has been convicted, while the others have been given the benefit of the doubt.
The actor has been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. The other actors were charged under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, the Bishnoi community has expressed displeasure at the other actors being allowed to go scot-free. The community feels reverentially towards blackbucks and has been working to protect the creatures.
Public Prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had said that all the accused were travelling in a Gypsy car that night and Salman Khan was driving the vehicle. Bhati claimed that it was Salman, who spotted a herd of black bucks, shot at and killed two of them. According to Bhati, on being spotted and chased, they fled from the spot leaving the dead animals there.
Khan’s counsel H M Saraswat has earlier claimed that prosecution has failed to prove the allegations. He said there were several loopholes in the prosecution’s story. It engaged in tampering and fabricating evidence and documents as well as roping in fake witnesses to prove its case.
Salman’s Bail papers have been prepared and the hearing of his bail application will take place on Friday morning int the Jodhpur Session Court , if the bail does not come through, Salman will have to stay in jail for three more days, as the weekend follows.
Hundreds of police persons were deployed out side the court room to keep back fans who massed to support the body-building actor best known for his macho roles.