After long endless trials of 20 years, Salman Khan, one of the biggest superstars of Indian film industry was on Thursday sentenced to 5 years in prison for the illegal killing of two blackbucks of endangered species in Rajasthan in 1998. The Jodhpur Court held the 52-year-old Bollywood actor Salman Khan guilty in 1998 Blackbuck poaching case. He is also been asked to pay a penalty of Rs. 10000. However, his fellow co-actors Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Neelam and Sonali Bendre who were also named in the co-accused were acquitted by the court under the benefit of the doubt.
Co-accused Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam and Tabu were present in court during pronouncement of the verdict. There are two other accused in the case — travel agent Dushyant Singh and Dinesh Gawre, Salman’s assistant at the time. Gawre is still absconding. Salman was penalized and held guilty under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Blackbuck is an endangered animal and included in the schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972. The maximum punishment under section 51 is six years and minimum one year jail.
Salman Khan will have to appeal to higher courts for bail as the sentence is more than three years. According to reports, the police have issued an arrest warrant for the actor and Salman has been taken into custody. However, reports said Salman’s legal team is ready to appeal to a higher court. If the higher court accepts the appeal, Salman might get bail and probably get back to Mumbai by Friday.
Salman Khan and his co-stars went for an alleged hunting session during the shooting of the film ‘Hum Sath Sath Hain’ and killed two blackbucks. The Bishnoi community angered by this incident and filed a complaint against the stars. Khan was also charged for keeping an arm under an expired arms license but was later acquitted by a trial court.
This is his fourth time in Jodhpur central jail, he had earlier spent a total of 18 days of jail time in 1998, 2006 and 2007. The Jodhpur jail also witnessed the jail time of rape accused religious preacher Asaram Bapu. Jail sources have informed the media that Salman Khan was lodged in a very heavily protected and secured barrack number 2. Media crews, Star fans and security personnel flocked the court premises and lined up along the two-kilometre route from the court to get a glimpse of the superstar as the 52-year-old was taken away in a Bolero police jeep to spend a night in jail.