SALMAN, THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY
Why is Salman Khan tweeting about his “tears of gratitude”. New movie a success?
You haven’t been paying attention. Salman Khan has been convicted by a Jodhpur trial court for hunting and killing endangered blackbuck in a Rajasthan village in 1998. Fellow actors and coaccused Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam were acquitted on the grounds that they didn’t fire any guns. Salman was sentenced to five years, forcing him to make a bail application to the sessions court. After two days in jail, he was released, much to the joy and celebration of fans and colleagues. Hence the tears.
It took 20 years to convict him?
The wheels of justice turn slowly. Local Bishnoi farmers filed a complaint soon after the alleged poaching occurred. For them, the antelope, and indeed their environment in general, is near sacred. Three cases were filed against Salman under the Wildlife Protection Act, and one under the Arms Act.
So what happened?
Hang on, let’s go back. This gets a bit confusing. In 1998, during the shoot for Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Salman was also accused of having poached chinkara deer, a protected species. He was convicted in January 2006 and sentenced to a one-year jail term, later stayed by a higher court. In April 2006, he was sentenced to a five-year jail term in the second chinkara case. He spent three days in jail before being bailed out pending appeal. In June 2006, charges were framed against Salman and his co-stars in the third case, blackbuck poaching this time.
There’s more. In 2007, Salman spent a week in a Jodhpur jail after he was convicted of using firearms with expired licences; the sentence was suspended on appeal. In 2012, having taken six years, the high court framed revised charges against Salman and his co-accused in the blackbuck poaching case. In November 2013, the Rajasthan High Court suspended the five-year sentence Khan got in April 2006 for poaching chinkara. In 2014, the Supreme Court challenged the suspension. But in July 2016, the Rajasthan High Court finally acquitted Salman in two cases of poaching chinkara. The third case, blackbuck poaching, was yet to be decided.
I’ve stopped listening...
There’s more. In October 2016, the Rajasthan government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court over Salman’s acquittals in the chinkara poaching cases. In November, the Supreme court agreed to expedite the hearings. In January 2017, a Jodhpur trial court acquitted Salman of using weapons with expired licences on his hunts for chinkara and blackbuck.
I feel dizzy.
In March 2018, Salman’s lawyers—having already proved to the satisfaction of the Rajasthan high court in two cases of chinkara poaching that there was not enough evidence to show without doubt that the animals were killed by Salman’s guns—found themselves back in a Jodhpur trial court in the blackbuck case. On April 5, Salman was convicted, sentenced to five years in jail and fined Rs 10,000. On April 7, he was bailed out pending appeal.
The wheels of justice begin to turn once more. Or something.
On April 5, Salman was convicted, sentenced to five years in jail and fined; on April 7, he got bail
OUT ON BAIL Salman thanks the crowds outside his Mumbai home