SALMAN, THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY

India Today - - INSIDE -

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.

Whew...

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.

What now?

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

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