1998 Blackbuck Poaching Case: Salman Khan JAILED

Gets 5-year jail term, Rs. 10,000 fine

Jodhpur:  In a landmark judgement, one of India’s biggest film stars, Salman Khan was pronounced guilty by a Jodhpur Court this morning in a case related to blackbuck poaching filed against him in 1998. Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri awarded Salman five years imprisonment and directed him to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000.

As the judgement was pronounced, the Police led Salman Khan to jail.

As the quantum of the punishment is above three years, 52-year-old Salman has no  alternative but to go to the jail today though he can apply for bail later in a higher Court. The maximum punishment for the offence is 6 years.

The other co-accused in the case — Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam and Tabu — have been acquitted. Salman Khan was accused of killing two blackbucks in Kankani village, Jodhpur, during the shooting of “Hum Saath Saath Hain.”

On October 2, 1998, a complaint was registered by the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan against the actors for allegedly hunting down two blackbucks during the filming of the movie. According to the complaint, Salman was accused of killing two blackbucks in Bhagoda ki Dhani near Jodhpur on the intervening night of October 1-2, 1998. He was also charged for possessing a weapon with an expired license.

“All of them were in a Gypsy car that night, with Salman Khan in the driving seat. He, on spotting a herd of black bucks, shot at and killed two of them,” public prosecutor Bhawani Singh Bhati had said. “But on being spotted and chased, they fled from the spot leaving the dead animals there,” he said, adding that there was adequate evidence against them. Besides the actors, the case involved two more accused, Dushyant Singh, who was allegedly accompanying the actors when the poaching took place, and Dinesh Gawre, said to be Salman Khan’s assistant.

Blackbucks are an endangered species and hunting them is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act. The Bishnoi community, known for their love for the environment, had filed a complaint against the actors and a local involved in the shooting.

The trial of the case was in progress for the last 20 years and Judge Dev Kumar Khatri had reserved the order for today after the final arguments on March 28.

Salman was facing charges under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the other actors have been charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code. Under Section 51, enforcement can be performed by agencies such as the Forest Department, the Police, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), the Customs and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Chargesheets can be filed directly by the Forest Department.

Besides the above case, the actor was also charged with two other poaching cases of Chinkara deer and blackbuck in Bhawad village and Mathania village respectively. He was acquitted in both the cases. However, the verdict in the Chinkara deer case was challenged by the Rajasthan government in the SC. The matter is currently pending with the top court. The charges in the Arms Act case were dropped.

Barrack for Salman is ready

Jodhpur jail authorities have readied a barrack for Salman Khan. However, jail authorities have clarified that no special arrangements will be made for the actor.  Jodhpur Central Jail Superintendent Vikram Singh said, “We have cleaned a barrack inside the central jail. There are good toilet facilities. However, inside the barrack, there is no cooler or AC — only a fan”.  When asked about the threat given to the actor by gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, Singh said, “We will provide him extra security inside the jail, in case it is needed”.

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